Howard Center wins award for probe of federal police shootings


April 8, 2021

The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, a national reporting initiative at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has won the top collegiate award in investigative journalism from Investigative Reporters & Editors for its probe of federal police shootings.

"Homeland Secrets” took first place in the large student category for revealing how agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a little known investigative unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), were involved in civilian shootings around the country, many of which had not been publicly investigated. The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism won the top collegiate award in investigative journalism" Download Full Image

Finalists in the same category were the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for “Public housing, the last refuge for the poor, threatens to kick out tenants for small debts” and Cronkite’s Carnegie-Knight News21 program for “Kids Imprisoned: An Investigation of juvenile justice in America.”

The State Press, ASU's student-run news organiztaion, was a finalist in the small student category for its reporting project “ASU's sexual assault investigation processes leave survivors traumatized, often without justice,” by Wyatt Myskow, Andrew Onodera and Piper Hansen, which examined how the university handles sexual assault cases.

“We’re especially proud that such a range of work is being recognized with these awards – the Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism, our Carnegie-Knight News21 program and the ASU student newspaper,” said Cronkite School Interim Dean Kristin Gilger. “We’re seeing more student interest than ever in investigative reporting, and students are producing work that any professional would be proud to claim. That bodes well for the future of journalism.”

The Howard Centers at Arizona State University and the University of Maryland are funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation to advance deeply researched watchdog journalism and train the next generation of investigative reporters. They were established in 2019 to honor the legacy of Roy W. Howard, the former chairman of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and a pioneering news reporter.

The national News21 Initiative is part of an effort of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York to change the way journalism is taught in the U.S. and train a new generation of journalists capable of reshaping the news industry.

The Howard Center’s award-winning investigation was triggered by a 2019 shooting in Phoenix involving HSI agents and suspected human smugglers. Students pieced together what happened by analyzing the Phoenix Police Department’s complete investigative file, which included a 132-page incident report, hours of video and audio of interviews with suspects, witnesses and federal agents, thousands of crime scene photos and audio of the shootout captured by a nearby security system.

It was that audio — analyzed for the Howard Center by two nationally recognized audio forensics and ballistics experts — that revealed federal agents, not suspects, opened fire first, contradicting official accounts of the shooting.

Howard Center journalists then set out to investigate whether HSI agents had been involved in other shootings across the U.S. They scoured news reports and obtained details of each case through public records from police agencies, health departments, prosecutors and courts. In all, reporters amassed more than 1,500 pages of official records and interviewed family members of victims from around the country who had been involved in HSI shootings.

Eight Howard Center students spent five months reporting and producing the multimedia investigation, which includes an interactive national map of shootings and an 11-minute video documentary. Two other Cronkite students helped produce some of the graphics used in the project, which was published in February 2020 and carried by national and regional media outlets, including The Associated Press, The Arizona Republic and Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS.

“I’m so proud of the student-journalists who produced this Howard Center investigation. It was an important but tough topic, and they rose to the challenge. Their tenacity and hard work are what’s being honored today, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” said Maud Beelman, director and executive editor of the Howard Center.

“We were fortunate to work with students who were both fierce reporters and great storytellers,” added Lauren Mucciolo, the center’s executive producer.

The IRE winners include:

Student - Large

Winner

"Homeland Secrets,” Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, José-Ignacio Castañeda Perez, Alexandra Edelmann, Joel Farias Godinez, Derek Hall, Nicole Ludden, Maia Ordoñez, Devan Sauer, Mackenzie Shuman, Mike Barnitz and Troy Tauscher.

Finalists

“Public housing, the last refuge for the poor, threatens to kick out tenants for small debts,”
Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland.

“Kids Imprisoned: An Investigation of juvenile justice in America,” Carnegie-Knight News21, news staff.

Student - Small

Finalist

“ASU's sexual assault investigation processes leave survivors traumatized, often without justice,” The State Press, Wyatt Myskow, Andrew Onodera and Piper Hansen.

Jamar Younger

Associate Editor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

New speaker series to tackle critical questions around Arizona's future


April 8, 2021

A new speaker series from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership tackles critical questions facing the state of Arizona.

The Future of Arizona Democracy series kicks off April 12 with a discussion centered around the state’s citizen initiative process, which allows for Arizonans to place important issues on public ballots for passage. The inaugural discussion will include insight from John Leshy, professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law, Arizona Republic editorial columnist Robert Robb and Hon. Maria Baier of Great Hearts USA. The panel will be moderated by former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl. A new speaker series from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership tackles critical questions facing the state of Arizona. The Future of Arizona Democracy series kicks off April 12 with a discussion centered around the state’s citizen initiative process, which allows for Arizonans to place important issues on public ballots for passage. Download Full Image

“SCETL offers programs for the non-ASU public, as well as students, to learn more about our governments,” Kyl said. “The better we understand how our governments work, the more citizens can help direct policy.

“The Future of Arizona Democracy program will provide interesting and informational perspectives from experts on how we can direct our efforts to improve our society."

The new series, co-sponsored by the Arizona Chamber Foundation’s Junior Fellows program, will include at least one event per semester. While the first event will be held virtually, the school and the Arizona Chamber hope to bring members of the community together, and plan to host future events in person.

“We are excited to partner with the Arizona Chambers Junior Fellows to deliver these important conversations around Arizona’s democracy and the state’s future,” said school Director Paul Carrese. “Arizona is a rapidly growing state with a diverse economy and some unique political features. And the Chamber of Commerce is a pillar of civil society across America, with a demonstrated interest in civic education for Americans of all ages. These conversations represent an opportunity for new and old members of our community to learn more effective ways to participate in self-government the Arizona way.”

The Arizona Junior Fellows are university students working with the Arizona Chamber Foundation on research, analysis and communications issues. The Junior Fellows program was founded by Eileen Klein, president emeritus for the Arizona Board of Regents, who currently serves as the group’s adviser.

“With a new generation of leaders in charge and many new people moving to our state, it’s the perfect time to consider how we will continue to evolve our democracy to promote freedom and opportunity for all,” Klein said. “We hope to inspire an ongoing series that will consider our state’s political and civic framework. Ideally, it will remain a student-led production, so students can become more immersed in the rich history of our state and more engaged as residents and voters.”

Klein also pointed out that Arizona State University represents a perfect place to host this inaugural discussion on the ballot initiative procedure, as Arizona citizens voted to transform ASU from a college to a university utilizing the procedure in 1958.

Future discussion topics could include election process integrity, executive authority and emergency powers, judicial power and mandatory sentencing, term limits and limitations, the Independent Redistricting Commission and competitive elections, rethinking the state government’s organizational chart, constitutional conservation and stewardship of natural resources, and the Voter Protection Act and Proposition 105, among other topics.

Learn more about the event on April 12 and to register to attend.

“It’s not enough to complain about the government if we’re not willing to be involved,” Kyl said. “Programs like our discussion on April 12 will help show how we can all be a part of our governance.”

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130