Student Wins Video Competition, $10,000 International Reporting Opportunity

Contact: Samantha Danis, 286-6013, or George Manlove, 581-3756

ORONO — Fourth-year UMaine broadcast journalism major Samantha Danis of Biddeford has been voted as one of five first-place prize winners in the national YouTube and Pulitzer Center “Project: Report” video competition. She has won a $10,000 grant for an international reporting assignment for the Pulitzer Center on anything she chooses, anywhere in the world.

Competition organizers announced the winners this week. Danis’ winning video is accessible at, and was selected on the basis of online voting.

“I was completely in shock,” Danis says of her reaction upon being told she was a winner. “I knew there was a 50-50 chance that I would be one of the five winners, but the other journalists were so talented that I didn’t know if things would end in my favor. I couldn’t be happier.”

Danis says her Project: Report video went from having 6,000 views one day to more than 120,000 the next, once winners were announced this week.

“I thought something was wrong with the website when I saw that,” she says, “I just can’t believe everything that has happened to me, and it’s not even over yet.”

Danis says she isn’t sure what to choose for an international reporting assignment.

“I have absolutely no idea where to go and what to cover,” she says. “I have been posting things on Facebook asking people for their input, so that has been very helpful.”

Danis and several classmates entered the contest as an assignment in Sunny Hughes’ broadcast journalism class. She was one of 10 semifinalists in a first round of judging 148 entries. She won a new computer and a high-definition camera. Round 2 narrowed the 10 semifinalists to five winners who now travel to Washington, D.C. May 9 for three days of workshops, a reception and viewing of the winning videos and discussions about international reporting options.

Her semifinal video entry was a short feature about someone who makes a difference — 82-year-old Alice Fogg of Naples, Maine who has sewn, stuffed and sent more than 1,000 pillows to injured American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Danis’ final entry featured a Hampden Academy student who is hard of hearing, his family and a part-time faculty member in the UMaine Division of Lifelong Learning who is Deaf, for a video on the plight of the deaf.

Danis has been told she is the first woman to win a top prize in the competition that began in 2008.