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ASU's Carnegie-Knight News21 wins RFK Journalism Award for 'America After Roe'

News21 also walks away with 2024 Grand Prize, an honor not typically bestowed on college journalists


Woman talking with two student journalists in office

Pauline Arrillaga (center), executive director of Carnegie-Knight News 21, converses with two student journalists at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Enrique Lopez/Arizona State University

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May 22, 2024

The Carnegie-Knight News21 program has been honored with two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards — including the prestigious 2024 Grand Prize, an honor not typically bestowed on college journalists. 

In over two decades, the Grand Prize has never before gone to a college group. News21 joins past honorees that include The New York Times, The Washington Post, Frontline and The Associated Press.

“I’m extremely proud of our News21 students for this unprecedented accomplishment, which puts them on par with some of the best professional journalists in the country,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. “The students and faculty spent countless hours conducting interviews and traveling across the country to complete this challenging and groundbreaking project. This recognition is well deserved.”

News21 also won in the college journalism category for its “America After Roe” project examining the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“America After Roe” explores the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling, which eliminated a federal right to abortion and returned regulation of the procedure to the states. The project investigated the ruling’s effect on health care, culture, policy and people. 

News21 is a national reporting initiative headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The 2023 News21 Fellows comprised 25 top student journalists from nine universities across the country — including 12 from the Cronkite School.

This is the fifth time that News21 students have won the RFK College Journalism Award and the seventh overall for the Cronkite School. It is the first time News21 has been honored with the Grand Prize. 

The fellows conducted extensive background research in spring 2023 before spending 10 weeks reporting and traveling to more than two dozen cities in 14 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Monterrey, Mexico. They produced stories in text, video, audio, photos and graphics. 

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized not just in the college category but with the Grand Prize for this project,” said News21 Executive Editor Pauline Arrillaga. “Our student journalists worked tirelessly to report from communities big and small, talking with doctors, patients, politicians and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens to help the public better understand the true impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. These awards are a testament to their dedication and diligence.” 

The RFK Journalism Awards were launched in 1969 by the reporters who covered Senator Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. The awards were created to honor a free and fair press and celebrate media professionals whose work explores issues of human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action.

The award is the latest recognition for “America After Roe.” The project has also received a “People’s Voice” Webby Award in the student video category along with three 2023 Editor and Publisher Magazine EPPY Awards.

News21 has won numerous other awards throughout the years, including Hearst Journalism Awards, Student Edward R. Murrow Awards, as well as recognitions from leading journalism organizations such as Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation joined forces in 2005 to launch News21 as a cornerstone of the "Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education."

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides core support for News21. The 2023 fellows were supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations, news organizations and philanthropic partners that include the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation, Hearst Foundations, The Arizona Republic/azcentral and Gray Television.

2023 News21 Fellows

Alex Appel, Arizona State University, Inasmuch Foundation Fellow

Peyton Brooks, University of Oregon

Morgan Casey, Arizona State University, Don Bolles/Arizona Republic Fellow

Francesca D’Annunzio, Arizona State University, Inasmuch Foundation Fellow

Naomi Delkamiller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Howard G. Buffett Foundation Fellow

Jenna Ebbers, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Howard G. Buffett Foundation Fellow

Morgan Fischer, Arizona State University, Hearst Foundation Fellow

Tori Gantz, Arizona State University, Hearst Foundation Fellow

Jordan Gerard, Arizona State University, Hearst Foundation Fellow

Elise Catrion Gregg, Florida International University

Michaela Herbst, University of Colorado Boulder

Cassidey Kavathas, St. Bonaventure University

Maddy Keyes, University of Oklahoma, Inasmuch Foundation Fellow

Henry Larson, University of Colorado Boulder 

Mingson Lau, Arizona State University, Howard G. Buffett Foundation Fellow

Marien López-Medina, University of Oklahoma, Inasmuch Foundation Fellow

Trilce Estrada Olvera, Arizona State University, Howard G. Buffett Foundation Fellow

Kevin Palomino, University of Oklahoma, Inasmuch Foundation Fellow

April Michelle Pierdant, University of North Texas, Gray Television Fellow

Deanna Pistono, Arizona State University, Hearst Foundation Fellow

Jada Respress, Ohio Wesleyan University

Joshua Shimkus, Arizona State University, Hearst Foundation Fellow 

Noel Lyn Smith, Arizona State University, Inasmuch Foundation Fellow

Shelby Rae Wills, Arizona State University, Howard G. Buffett Foundation Fellow

Joseph Kual Zakaria, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Howard G. Buffett Foundation Fellow

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