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ASU News21 investigation on 'Gun Wars' wins top journalism award

News21 Gun Wars

ASU student Emilie Eaton experiences shooting a firearm in preparation for the Carnegie-Knight News21 investigation on guns.
Photo by: Brittany Morris/Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

October 05, 2015

For the second consecutive year, a national investigation by Carnegie-Knight News21 at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has received one of the nation’s top digital journalism awards.

Carnegie-Knight News21’s “Gun Wars” investigation has won an Online Journalism Award from the Online News Association in the student projects pro-am category. The 2014 investigation produced by 29 students from 16 universities featured dozens of multimedia stories, videos, databases and photo galleries examining the polarizing issues of gun rights and regulation in America.

The investigation was led by News21 executive editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, and Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of The Washington Post and current Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School.

“This award is particularly special not only because it recognizes the power of strong journalism, but because it also underscores our efforts to be innovative in our visuals and storytelling about one of the most controversial topics in America,” Petchel said. “We are really proud of these young journalists for their extraordinary and visionary efforts on this project.”

Students analyzed gun laws in all 50 states and compiled the most complete database on gun-related deaths among children in America. They also traveled to more than 28 states interviewing hundreds of individuals and sharing their stories.

The Washington Post, USA Today and NBC News were among the news organizations that published major portions of the investigation.

“The ‘Gun Wars’ project exposed hundreds of thousands of Americans to a more complete picture of gun rights and gun control forces in the United States,” Downie said, “through penetrating stories and powerful multimedia about real people throughout the country — gun enthusiasts and citizen militias, women gun owners and entrepreneurs, teachers who carry concealed guns in their classrooms, the passionate lobbyists and activists on both sides of gun issues and the many inner-city resident and child victims of gun violence.”

In addition to the Online Journalism Award, a Cronkite School student working on the project won the very first Edward R. Murrow award honoring a college student for work in video journalism. Erin Patrick O’Connor was the inaugural winner of a Student Edward R. Murrow Award in overall video excellence. “Gun Wars” also received an EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher magazine for best college investigative report.

Carnegie-Knight News21 won an Online Journalism Award last year in the large student reporting category for “Back Home,” a multimedia investigation into the fate of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Online News Association is dedicated to inspiring innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. Membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers, academics, students and others who produce and distribute news for digital delivery systems.

Carnegie-Knight News21 is a multimedia investigative reporting initiative established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The “Gun Wars” project was also supported by the Miami Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation and Louis A. “Chip” Weil.

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