ASU journalism students win most top honors at national collegiate awards


Colse-up of an award/plaque that reads "Society of Professional Journalists presents the Mark of Excellence Award."

The Cronkite School and The State Press, ASU’s independent student news outlet, won the most first place awards, as well as the most awards overall, at the Society of Professional Journalists 2021 Mark of Excellence Journalism Awards.

Arizona State University students won 10 national awards at the Society of Professional Journalists 2021 Mark of Excellence Journalism Awards. 

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and The State Press, ASU’s independent student news outlet, won the most first place awards, as well as the most awards overall, taking top honors in seven categories while three students finished as finalists. 

“Our students continue to show a level of excellence and commitment to highlighting important stories on campus and within the community, allowing them to stand out among their peers from across the country,” said Battinto L. Batts Jr., dean of the Cronkite School. “I am once again proud of their accomplishments as they represent the Cronkite School at these prestigious national awards.”

Katelyn Keenehan won for Television General News Reporting for her Cronkite News story “Water Pipeline,” which details how the Pascua Yaqui Tribe will benefit from the U.S. Water Resource Development Act.  

David Montoya received an award for Best Radio Feature for “Arizona’s RUF Nation Puts Indigenous Roots on Display Through Combat Athletics,” another Cronkite News story about a tribal-owned fight company that hosts combat shows at tribal-owned casinos in Arizona. 

Amiliano Fragoso won in the Sports Writing category for the Cronkite News story “Last Chance Yuma: Thriving Arizona Western Soccer Program Bonds a Community,” which details the success of the men’s soccer team at Arizona Western College. 

The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism took home the In-Depth Reporting award for “Little Victims Everywhere,” an investigative series that examines child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities. 

The State Press won the award for Best Independent Online Student Publication. Two State Press staff members won for their work as well.  

Reed Steiner received an award for Editorial Cartooning while Drake Presto won an award for Broadcast/Online Sports Videography for “Rush: Jackson He.” The package details ASU running back Jackson He’s historic touchdown at the 2020 Territorial Cup.  

The national finalists included a story about a group of drag queens performing amid COVID-19 protocols, the struggles of a local farmer after her water was shut off due to a drought, and a Phoenix parkour athlete who plays and commentates competitive tag.

Cronkite’s seven national first-place winners: 

  • In-Depth Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students – “Little Victims Everywhere,” The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism.
  • Television General News Reporting – “Water Pipeline,” Cronkite News, Katelyn Keenehan.
  • Radio Feature – “Arizona’s RUF Nation Puts Indigenous Roots on Display Through Combat Athletics,” Cronkite News, David Montoya.
  • Sports Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students – "Last Chance Yuma: Thriving Arizona Western Soccer Program Bonds a Community,” Cronkite News, Amiliano Fragoso.
  • Broadcast/Online Sports Videography – “Rush: Jackson He,” The State Press, Drake Presto.
  • Editorial Cartooning – Reed Steiner, The State Press.
  • Best Independent Online Student Publication – The State Press.

Cronkite’s three national finalists:

To see the list of all the winners and finalists of the 2021 Mark of Excellence Awards, visit the Society of Professional Journalists website.

Written by Connor Fries

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