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ASU Cronkite School wins professional journalist contest for 14th straight year

journalism student Cronkite NewsWatch control room
April 03, 2014

For the 14th consecutive year, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is the top school in the regional Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Mark of Excellence Awards competition.

The Cronkite School finished in first place with a total of 36 awards in the Region 11 contest, twice as many as the second-place school. This included 16 first-place entries, which will proceed to the SPJ national competition.

Cronkite swept five categories, securing the top three spots in Best Use of Multimedia, Online Sports Reporting, Radio Features, Television Breaking News Reporting and Television Sports Reporting.

Carnegie-Knight News21, a national multimedia investigative reporting initiative headquartered at Cronkite, captured first place for Best Digital-only Student Publication for its examination of government failures to live up to promises made to post-9/11 veterans. That project, portions of which were published by The Washington Post, and other national media outlets, won in four other SPJ categories.

Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s four-day-a-week television newscast, collected 12 awards in six categories honoring individual work. The Downtown Devil, an independent student-run online publication covering Downtown Phoenix, won Best Independent Online Student Publication. It also won Best All-around Radio Newscast for its program, “The Rundown: Celebrating Our Cultures.”

The awards were presented at the SPJ regional conference March 28 in Honolulu.

“We’re particularly proud that our students won across all major categories – newspapers, magazine, radio, television and online media,” said Cronkite associate dean Kristin Gilger.

This year’s regional contest attracted nearly 600 entries from college journalism students in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Guam and the Mariana Islands.

Winners of the regional SPJ competitions go on to another round of judging in the national SPJ competition. Those winners will be announced in September at the annual SPJ convention in Nashville, Tenn. In seven of the past eight years, Cronkite has outperformed all other schools in the national competition.

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 10,000 members.

The complete list of Cronkite’s 2013 regional ASU winners:


Television Breaking News Reporting

Winner: Kristina Zverjako, “New Jersey Snow Storm,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Finalist: Angelica Brown, “After Cool Fitness,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Finalist: Andrea Perez, “Businesses on the Border,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Television Feature

Finalist: Grant Inman, “Father Craig,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Television In-depth Reporting

Finalist: Cronkite NewsWatch Staff, “Religion in Arizona”

Finalist: Kelsea Wasung, “Arizona Experience Museum,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Television News/Feature Photography

Winner: Gabriela Rodiles, “Save the Music,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Finalist: Gabriela Rodiles, “Graffiti in Phoenix,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Television Sports Photography

Winner: Robby Baker, “Florence Coach,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Television Sports Reporting

Winner: Robby Baker, “Florence Coach,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Finalist: Ryan Foote, “Geriatric Gym,” Cronkite NewsWatch

Finalist: Nicholas K. Marek, “NFL Dodgeball,” Cronkite NewsWatch


Best All-around Radio Newscast

Winner: Annika Cline, Kevin Fallon and Joey Hardy, “The Rundown: Celebrating Our Cultures,” Downtown Devil

Radio Feature

Winner: Cooper Rummell, “Catholic Tech Changes,” The Blaze 1330 KASC-AM

Finalist: Mark Remillard, “Food Trucks,” 92.3 KTAR-FM

Finalist: Alec Damiano, “Halloween Pets,” The Blaze 1330 KASC-AM

Radio In-depth Reporting

Finalist: Alec Damiano, “Music Impact,” The Blaze 1330 KASC-AM

Radio News Reporting

Finalist: Cooper Rummell, “Maricopa County Jail Flags,” 92.3 KTAR-FM


Best Digital-only Student Publication

Winner: Carnegie-Knight News21 Staff, "Back Home: The Enduring Battles Facing Post-9/11 Veterans"

Best Independent Online Student Publication

Winner: The Downtown Devil

Best Use of Multimedia

Winner: Downtown Devil Staff, “Art Detour 25”

Finalist: Asha Anchan, Kelsey Hightower, Caitlin Cruz and Gregory Kohn, “Record Numbers of Female Vets Strain System,” Carnegie-Knight News21

Finalist: Cronkite News Staff, “Obesity in America,” Cronkite News Service

Online Feature Reporting

Finalist: Erin O’Connor, “Dan Fulton’s Comeback,” The State Press

Finalist: Caitlin Cruz and Rachel Leingang, “Leesville, La., Embraces Veterans as Their Own,” Carnegie-Knight News21

Online In-depth Reporting

Winner: Carnegie-Knight News21 Staff, “Back Home: The Enduring Battles Facing Post-9/11 Veterans”

Online News Reporting

Winner: Cale Ottens, “Life at the top: In L.A.’s skyscrapers, diverse firms, great views,” Los Angeles Times

Online Sports Reporting

Winner: Sean Peick, “Special Report: Combatting Concussions in High School Sports,” Cronkite News Service

Finalist: Shelby Slade and Nick Prete, “ASU Power Soccer Team Gives Students Second Chance at Competition,” The State Press

Finalist: Nathan Humphreys, “Collmenter Carves Own Niche en Route to D-backs,”


Breaking News Reporting (Large)

Winner: Mary Shinn, “Giffords Urges Lawmakers to 'Be Courageous' on Gun Violence Measures,” Cronkite News

General News Reporting (Large)

Winner: Kay Miller, “Back Home: Hearing Loss Prevalent Among Post-9/11 Vets,” Denver Post

Sports Writing (Large)

Finalist: Breanna Slocum, “The Number One Sun Devil Baseball Fan,” State Press Magazine


General News Photography (Large)

Winner: Courtney Pedroza, “Monsoon Storm,” Downtown Devil

Non-fiction Magazine Article

Finalist: Mackenzie McCreary, “Here and There,” State Press Magazine

Sports Photography (Large)

Winner: Diana Lustig, “Volleyball,” The State Press