Tim Disney lends sponsorship support to 2021 Zócalo Book and Poetry Prize

LA philanthropist will present prizes at May 2021 event

April 8, 2021

Zócalo Public Square has a new sponsor for its 2021 Zócalo book and poetry prize award ceremony to be held as a virtual event on May 20. 

Screenwriter and Los Angeles philanthropist Tim Disney has gifted $20,000 to support this year’s prize event, which recognizes a nonfiction book that best enhances understanding of community and social cohesion, and the poem that best describes human connectedness to place.  Download Full Image

“We received more than 200 entries for our book prize and over 500 poetry submissions,” said Moira Shourie, executive director of Zócalo. “Mr. Disney’s generous support allows us to reach a wider audience and bring people together to celebrate the work of scholars and poets that we will recognize at the 2021 Zócalo prize event.”

The contribution is the largest individual sponsorship for these prizes in the 11-year history of this signature Zócalo event and for Disney, a longtime supporter of the creative arts, literature and philanthropic organizations, the time couldn’t be more right to shine a light on the cornerstone of Zócalo’s public mission.

“To be a conscious human in our modern world is to be adrift on a flood tide of information — some of it true and relevant; much of it false and toxic,” Disney said. “Artists and writers help us make sense and meaning of it all. The Zócalo book and poetry prize celebrates this most essential of human acts. I am happy and proud to support this year's event and congratulate the winners.”

Disney will present the winners of this year’s book and poetry prizes during a virtual event that will be livestreamed on several digital platforms on May 20. Over the last year, Zócalo’s online events have attracted national and international audiences from cities as close by as Santa Monica, California, and Phoenix to countries as far away as Australia and India. 

Tim Disney is the son of Roy E. Disney, former executive of the world-renowned Walt Disney Company co-founded by Tim’s grandfather Roy O. Disney and granduncle Walt Disney. Tim has served on the CalArts Board of Trustees since 1993 and was named chairman of the board in 2014. He is also a board member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. 

Founded in Los Angeles in 2003, Zócalo Public Square is an ASU Knowledge Enterprise. Zócalo connects people to ideas and to one another by examining essential questions in an accessible, broad-minded and democratic spirit. It pursues its mission by convening events and by publishing ideas journalism syndicated to 290 media outlets worldwide.

Sr. Media Relations Officer, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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


"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.


“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


“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