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ASU Cronkite School multimedia projects win national journalism awards

Elizabeth Sims, an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow, films at Scott Mills Falls in Scott Mills, Oregon, for Carnegie-Knight News21's "Troubled Water," which recently won an Online Journalism Award. Photo by Agnel Philip/News21

September 18, 2018

Two innovative multimedia reporting projects produced by students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication took top honors in one of the nation’s leading digital journalism awards.

Carnegie-Knight News21 and Cronkite News, headquartered at the Cronkite School, received Online Journalism Awards from the Online News Association. News21 won the Pro-Am Student Award for “Troubled Water,” an in-depth multimedia investigation into drinking water contamination. Cronkite News won a David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award for “Leaving Tracks: The Capture of Wolf No. 1553,” a digital interactive examining the Mexican gray wolf.

Carnegie-Knight News21, a national reporting initiative that brings top journalism students from across the country to report and produce multimedia projects, and Cronkite News, the student-produced and faculty-led news division of Arizona PBS, received the honors at the ONA Conference Saturday in Austin, Texas.

“These projects illustrate the great creativity of our students to tell important stories in new, compelling ways,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “We are very proud of these talented students and their inspiring professors.”

Since 2014, the Cronkite School has the most Online Journalism Awards among journalism schools with undergraduate degrees. Carnegie-Knight News21 won Online Journalism Awards in 2015 and 2014, bringing the total to four. 

The “Troubled Water” investigation included an expansive website with a 26-minute documentary and more than a dozen multimedia stories as well as databases and data visualizations documenting water issues. 

Twenty-nine students from 18 universities traveled to 25 states, interviewing hundreds of individuals and collecting thousands of pages of state and federal statutes and records for the investigation. Portions of the project appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, the NBC News website and the Center for Public Integrity. 

“It’s always an honor to receive a national award that recognizes some of the best student journalists in the country,” said Carnegie-Knight News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel. “But we are particularly proud that we have been recognized for our innovation and our efforts to advance the future of journalism through deep reporting and sophisticated multimedia elements.”

“Leaving Tracks: The Capture of Wolf No. 1553” explores the Mexican gray wolf population in Arizona and New Mexico by weaving in video, images, audio, data visualizations and text into a dynamic news story.

Cronkite student Jenna Miller produced the story and interactive, with Adriana De Alba focusing on video, Eric Jakows working on graphics and Meagan Barbee helping with the reporting.

“We’re extremely grateful for the honor,” said Cronkite News Executive Editor Christina Leonard. “We cover the Mexican gray wolf county every year, and we pushed the students to come up with a new way to tell this story. They delivered. They worked hard to create a multimedia experience that highlighted the amazing content they gathered in a unique way.”

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.

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