Upper School Leadership and Journalism Students are Finalists in NPR Podcast Competition

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A podcast produced by students in Heathwood’s Studies in Leadership and Applied Journalism class has been selected as a finalist in National Public Radio’s 2021 Student Podcast competition. The 15 finalists were chosen from more than 2600 submissions.

The podcast, “Shoot Again, You Coward,” tells the dramatic story of a politically motivated murder in broad daylight: in 1903, SC Lieutenant Governor Jim Tillman shot State newspaper editor-in-chief Narcisco Gonzales in downtown Columbia because he was unhappy with the paper’s coverage of his administration. Gonzales, fatally wounded, nevertheless had the wherewithal to utter the line “Shoot again, you coward,” from which the podcast draws its name.

Described by the students who created it as “a story of corruption, racism, murder, and the fight for freedom of the press … that has been largely forgotten yet is eerily tied to our political climate today,” the podcast features interviews with a historian, two local journalists, a noted SC prosecutor, and a great-nephew of the victim, all of whom help reconstruct a fascinating but largely forgotten story.

“Shoot Again, You Coward” was created by Studies in Leadership and Applied Journalism students Elizabeth Burns, Sophia Conner, Addie-Grace Cook, Avery Goodale, Madeline Hurst, Brooklyn Moore, Pete Peterson, Liam Quan, Alexander Roberts, Daniel Sobel, Abby Suber, Ellie Tanner, Adelaide Wood, and Adair Wood. The class is taught by Upper School Government Teacher Julie Firetag and Upper School Head George Scouten.

Over the course of the year, the students have produced seven podcasts altogether, which will be available on Spotify on May 21 as part of Heathwood’s ongoing Honors Leadership Studies Outspoken Leader Podcast Series. A sneak peek at this year’s series, including interviews with politician and CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers, former WNBA President Lisa Borders, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expert Dr. Rodney Glasgow, will be available on May 17, along with previous Outspoken Leader episodes featuring football great Marcus Lattimore, Today Show host Craig Melvin, Lt. General George Flynn, former governor and congressman Mark Sanford, and civil rights pioneer Janet Hill. Additional episodes of this year’s series will feature national-championship-winning basketball coach Dawn Staley, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, and Republican Congressman Joe Wilson.

Telling Gonzales’ story was a particularly rewarding experience, said Mrs. Firetag: “The students worked collaboratively to research, conduct interviews, record, and edit this largely unknown story of Columbia that holds great significance in the intersecting fields of politics and journalism.  Studies in Leadership and Applied Journalism is a course that allows students the opportunity to instantly utilize lessons learned in the classroom in the creation of shareable work such as this entry.”

Dr. Scouten attributed the success of the podcast not just to the work the students put into it but to their savvy choice of topic and the decisions they made about how to tell the story: “They chose a topic that was about our home community of Columbia but that had broad appeal.  It was set in a moment of time, but confronts issues that are relevant today.  And it sought a variety of voices--from historians to journalists to family members of those involved.  I loved seeing how they worked together, from choosing the topic to designing questions to reviewing interview footage to crafting the narrative.  Ultimately, they came up with a compelling story, and I am  so happy for them to receive this recognition."