St. Louis Press Club honors 2 UMSL student journalists

Current staff Candice Murdock and Kat Riddler

Candice Murdock (at left) and Kat Riddler – both enthusiastic contributors to The Current, UMSL’s independent student newspaper – were each recognized with a $1,000 award at the St. Louis Press Club’s scholarship luncheon earlier this month. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Candice Murdock and Kat Riddler have more than one thing in common, but perhaps most obvious among their shared interests is their curiosity about others.

That’s a driving force for both University of Missouri­–St. Louis students, who were each recently recognized with a $1,000 scholarship for journalistic excellence.

“I really enjoy getting other people’s perspectives and opinions on whatever is happening on campus,” said Murdock, who has tackled a variety of topics and multimedia projects on behalf of UMSL’s independent student newspaper, The Current, over the past year.

A senior media studies major at the university, she joined Riddler – The Current’s editor-in-chief the past two years – and 14 other student journalists in the region for the St. Louis Press Club’s annual scholarship luncheon July 11.

Murdock was recognized with the United Media Guild Journalism Foundation Scholarship, and Riddler received the Missouri Professional Communicators Journalism Foundation Scholarship. Michael Murray, UM Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Communication and Media, joined the celebration.

“This is the first time in recent memory that two of our students have received scholarship recognition at the same time from the St. Louis Press Club,” Murray said. “The mothers of both Candice and Kat were in attendance as well, and I spoke at some length with them. They were both obviously very proud of their daughters’ accomplishments.”

Murdock and Riddler each wear a variety of hats on UMSL’s campus and beyond, but their roles with The Current particularly stand out as opportunities to cultivate critical and interdisciplinary skills.

Riddler, whose scholarship marks her third consecutive award from the St. Louis Press Club, called the recognition an affirmation that the student newspaper is “doing something right” as it moves into its 52nd year of publication.

Her tenure as editor from 2015 to 2017 coincided with a critical period for The Current, which has experienced some ebbs and flows. Murray praised Riddler’s leadership and the entire student staff for helping to address some difficult cost challenges in recent years.

“Like student newspaper publishers all over the country, our students at The Current have had to adjust to a changing business model in which the available advertising has migrated to online publications,” he said. “It’s been impressive to see how well they have adjusted with the support they received from key campus leaders.”

Riddler, who holds a BA in English from UMSL and is now at work on an MBA at the university, just recently stepped down from the editor-in-chief position due to term limits. But she remains invested in the paper as managing editor – and the scholarship news earlier this month has her even more eager to continue the work.

“I have enjoyed being able to meet and interview so many dedicated professionals from all levels of the faculty and administration, along with a wide variety of students from diverse backgrounds,” she said. “And I’ve tried in each case to present their stories for the education and enjoyment of others.”

Much of Murdock’s most recent Current coverage has focused on social justice issues, with stories exploring everything from immigration to ageism. The upperclassman, who is looking toward graduate school, is minoring in communication and also earning a certificate in gender studies from UMSL.

“Candice is an excellent writer,” Murray said. “She just completed my course in Broadcast Writing and Reporting and was one of only a few students to receive an A.”

Both students said they found the luncheon event inspiring, and they were particularly interested in what the featured speakers – Kameel Stanley and Tim Lloyd of St. Louis Public Radio – shared with those in attendance. Stanley and Lloyd head up the station’s “We Live Here” podcast, which looks at race and class.

“I find podcasting fascinating, because there are so many people doing it, and they are all still trying to figure out the best use of the medium,” Riddler said. “It was interesting to get Kameel and Tim’s perspectives.”

“The speakers had an effect on me and further enforced the importance and the power of media,” Murdock added. “Although I had already planned to continue volunteering at The Current, this definitely spurs me on.”

The UMSL Experience

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