Skip to main content


Rich Beckman was the Director of Visual Communication in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina from 1978 to 2008. He focused on documentary multimedia for social change and has worked with a number of organizations as a documentary producer and educator.

During his time at UNC, he served two terms on the Faculty Council; won the Tanner and David Brinkley Awards, both in recognition of excellence in undergraduate teaching; was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in South Africa, Chile and Spain; a charter member of the UNC-CH Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars and Carolina Speakers and served as the Julian Sheer Term Professor of Journalism and the James L. Knight Distinguished Professor of Journalism, awards given for overall excellence in teaching, research and service. He twice chaired divisions within the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and was the founder and director of the Multimedia Bootcamp Workshops held at UNC-CH for eight years.

As an online producer, he has led teams that have won many of the most prestigious multimedia prizes in the world including the Sigma Delta Chi Medal of Honor and the Pirelli INTERNETional Award for Educational Media, as well as multimedia storytelling awards from the Online News Association (ONA), the National Press Photographers Association, The Broadcast Education Association, Horizon Interactive Awards, The Society for News Design and the Pictures of the Year International competitions. He has judged the photography and multimedia categories of the White House Press Photographers Association’s annual competition, the SNDies and Malofiej and the photography categories of the Robert F. Kennedy Awards, which honor outstanding reporting of the lives and strife of disadvantaged people throughout the world.

He has spoken about and taught multimedia storytelling at NPPA national conferences, the News Photographers Association of Canada, the Eddie Adams Workshop and The Poynter Institute, and consulted in newsrooms around the world.

The Rich Beckman Documentary Award honors his tradition of strong documentary work by funding one student each year to pursue a long-form storytelling project. Previous grantees have worked in such places as the Philippines, Ecuador, the Grand Canyon and Louisiana.

The award goes to photo/video major(s) or interactive media student(s) to conduct fieldwork for a documentary storytelling or an interactive media project.

Applicants must be media and journalism majors or pre-majors (undergraduate and graduate students are eligible).

Applicants must have completed at least one photo/video or interactive media course in the school before applying.

AWARD AMOUNT FOR 2020: up to $6,000