19 universities join ASU in Carnegie-Knight News21 investigation into disaster recovery

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Carnegie-Knight News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel will lead journalism students from 20 universities in a major investigation into disaster recovery in the U.S.


Top journalism students from 19 universities are coming to Arizona State University to conduct a major investigation into disaster recovery in the U.S. as part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia reporting initiative.

Headquartered at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21 was established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate that college journalism students can produce innovative, in-depth multimedia projects on a national scale.

Twenty-four students from 19 journalism programs across the U.S., as well as Canada and Ireland, will join a dozen Cronkite students for the 2019 investigation. They will examine how local and federal governments allocate the funds to communities affected by disasters.

The students are led by News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

“We have seen a continual barrage of weather-related disasters, from hurricanes and wildfires to tornadoes and snowstorms, take their toll on communities across the country,” Petchel said. “What we'll be investigating is how federal and local governments have handled the billions and billions of dollars spent on disaster recovery, as well as how communities across the country have fared over the years — decades after the fact.”

Following the seminar, students move into paid summer fellowships, during which they work out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School and travel across the country to report and produce their stories. The students’ stories and multimedia will be posted on the project’s own destination website. Portions of previous investigations have been published by major news organizations including The Washington Post, NBC News, the Center for Public Integrity and USA Today, as well as many non-profit news websites.

News21 projects have included investigations into voting rights, post-9/11 veterans, marijuana laws, guns in America, drinking-water safety and hate crimes, among other topics. The projects have won numerous awards, including five EPPY Awards from Editor & Publisher magazine, two Student Edward R. Murrow Awards, and a host of honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hearst Awards Program, considered the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides core support for the News21 program.

Individual fellows are supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations, news organizations and philanthropists that include The Arizona Republic, The Dallas Morning News, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Hearst Foundations, International Ireland Funds, Knight Foundation, Murray Endowment, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick, Myrta J. Pulliam and John and Patty Williams.

Cronkite fellows will be named later this semester. The fellows from other universities are:

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina: Ben Sessoms.
  • DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana: Katlyn Hunger and Peter Nicieja (both are Myrta Pulliam Fellows).
  • Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland: Rachel Farrell (Independent News & Media Fellow).
  • Elon University, Elon, North Carolina: Anton Delgado.
  • George Washington University, Washington, D.C.: Justine Coleman.
  • Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York: Jordan Laird.
  • Kent State University, Kent, Ohio: Anna Huntsman (Diane Laney Fitzpatrick Fellow).
  • Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Natalie Anderson.
  • St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, New York: Christian Gravius.
  • Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York: Stacy Fernández.
  • University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada: Dustin Patar.
  • University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado: Natalie Wadas.
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa: Becca Scadden (Murray Endowment Fellow).
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis: Miguel Octavio and Jacob Steinberg.
  • University of North Texas, Denton, Texas: Briana Castanon (Dallas Morning News Fellow).
  • University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma: Sarah Beth Guevara, Drew Hutchinson, Bailey Lewis and Brigette Waltermire (all are Ethics & Excellence Fellows).
  • University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Priscilla Malavet.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee: Sophie Grosserode (John & Patty Williams Fellow).
  • University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas: Emree Weaver.

Past investigations and information on the News21 program can be found at news21.com.

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