By Alison Wayner
At a time when most soon-to-be college graduates are struggling to beef up their resumes, Kantele Franko just got a major boost for hers.
The senior journalism major was named one of UWIRE's inaugural top 100 collegiate journalists last week. UWIRE is a free membership organization for college student media.
The UWIRE 100 competition, intended to identify an elite crop of aspiring media professionals, received more than 500 nominations from students and educators at 132 schools. The selected students have excelled in a particular area of journalism, proven a commitment to the journalism field and exhibited the potential to help revolutionize their industry. UWIRE 100 students hail from 66 schools, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to large state universities.
"It's an honor to make this inaugural list, and I'm even more blessed to work with other passionate, driven people who might not have been nominated, but whose names I could easily envision on this list, including several Post colleagues," Franko said.
Franko currently is a stringer for Ohio University's independent student-run newspaper, The Post, but has served as its city editor, senior city writer and a copy editor throughout her time in Athens. She wrote an award-winning five-part series for the newspaper that investigated deteriorating infrastructure in the city of Athens and the struggle to fund repairs. For this report, Franko garnered the Society of Professional Journalists Region IV Mark of Excellence award in the in-depth reporting category and received honorable mention in the Associated Press Society of Ohio Awards for enterprise reporting in Division II.
Franko credits former Knight Professor of News Editing Deborah Gump and former Scripps College of Communication Assistant Dean Dee Dee Riffe with pushing her to succeed.
"The best teachers and editors in my life have been those who, instead of force-feeding me information, built my confidence by pushing me to the edge of my own thoughts, assumptions and abilities," she said.
Gump noted that Franko stood out from day one.
"When I would ask students about their career goals, many wanted to cover sports or fashion or music. Not Kantele. Kantele wanted, actually wanted, to cover city hall," Gump said. "That's where things got done, she said, or at least that's where things are supposed to get done. I learned pretty quickly that Kantele was all about getting things done."
Franko has had a number of notable internship experiences, including with the Scripps Howard Foundation's Semester in Washington program, where she was part of a team covering the pope's recent visit to Washington, and The San Francisco Chronicle, where she wrote a story describing the city dump in such detail that it nearly made her editor ill. She will intern this summer with the Associated Press in Cincinnati -- the fifth internship of her college career.
Franko is scheduled to graduate summa cum laude in June and plans to pursue a career in news writing.
"I'm a hard-news junkie who bleeds ink and thrives on the adrenaline rush of a compelling story," she said, "so I'll probably pursue a job at a mid-sized newspaper or a wire service."
With so much going on, it wouldn't seem as though Franko has time to pursue much more, but she made a promise she intends to keep.
"My middle school principal told me he expected to see my name in lights someday, and I said I'd do my best. So I'll have to try to do something about that, too," she said, pausing. "I'm not quite sure what."