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Cronkite School tops journalism contest for 13th consecutive year

April 17, 2013

For the 13th consecutive year, students of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University took first in the regional Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence student awards competition.

Cronkite students claimed a total of 41 awards in the Region 11 contest, more than three times the number won by any other school. Judges awarded Cronkite students 19 first-place finishes; those winning entries will now proceed to national competition.

This year’s awards spanned all contest categories – print, radio, television and online media. Students in Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s four-day-a-week television newscast, did particularly well, winning seven first-place awards and sweeping six of the eight television categories honoring individual work.  

News21, a national student reporting project supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, among others, won the highest award for Best Independent Online Student Publication. News21 students also won three other awards for stories produced as part of a national investigative project on voting rights last year.

Students participating in the Cronkite Borderlands Initiative won for reporting on immigration and border issues in Puerto Rico, placing first in feature reporting in the online category and first in feature reporting in the print category.

The State Press, ASU’s independent student newspaper, was named the region's Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper and its website took top honors for websites affiliated with a print publication.

The awards were presented at the SPJ regional conference April 13 in Las Vegas.

“We’re extremely proud of our students and the quality of the journalism they produce every day,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “It’s gratifying when an organization like the Society of Professional Journalists recognizes and rewards their hard work.”

Cronkite students consistently dominate the SPJ regional competition, winning nearly 300 regional awards in the past seven years. The regional competition recognizes the best college-level journalism in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Guam and the Mariana Islands.

In addition, Cronkite has outperformed all other schools for the past six years in the national SPJ competition, which considers the best student work from across the country. The results of this year’s national contest will be announced in August at the annual SPJ convention in Anaheim, Calif.

The complete list of the 2012 regional Cronkite winners:

Broadcast Awards

TV Breaking News Reporting
First: Kristina Zverjako, "Attorney General Investigation," Cronkite NewsWatch
Second: Cassondra Strande, "Maricopa County's Troubles with Hispanic Voting Materials," Cronkite NewsWatch
Third: Liz Kotalik, "Border Patrol Agent Killed," Cronkite NewsWatch

TV Feature Photography
First: Jack Highberger, "Nogales Old West Tradition," Cronkite NewsWatch
Second: Nathan O’Neal, “Court Judge in Rock Band," Cronkite NewsWatch

TV General News Reporting
First: Bill Melugin, "Scottsdale City Council Bought and Paid for by the Liquor Industry?" Cronkite NewsWatch
Third: Joe Nemec, "Crossing the Border for a Better Deal," Cronkite NewsWatch

TV In-Depth Reporting
First: Cronkite NewsWatch, "Failing our Future," Cronkite NewsWatch
Second: Jack Highberger, “Juarez Orphanages,” Cronkite NewsWatch
Third: Jessica Goldberg, "Drug Culture," Cronkite NewsWatch

TV Newscast
Second: Cronkite NewsWatch Staff, “Cronkite NewsWatch”

TV News Photography
First: Blake Essig, "Vets Training to Become Firefighters," Cronkite NewsWatch
Second: Dan Neligh, "Dental Work in Mexico," Cronkite NewsWatch
Third: Nathan O'Neal, "Navajo HIV," Cronkite NewsWatch

TV Sports Photography
First: Jessica Goldberg, "Valley Woman Hopes to Bring her Boxing Talents to the Olympics," Cronkite NewsWatch
Second: Jordan Hamm, "Swimmer Overcomes Injuries," Cronkite NewsWatch
Third: Cailyn Bradley, "All-Female Rowing Team," Cronkite NewsWatch

TV Sports Reporting
First: Amber Harding, Justin Beatty and Kim Pestalozzi, "In-Depth: The Price of Playing," Cronkite NewsWatch
Second: Amber Harding, "Former Top Recruit Overcomes Tragedy to Inspire Others," Cronkite NewsWatch
Third: Amber Harding and Kim Pestalozzi, "Nothing to Cheer About," Cronkite NewsWatch

Radio Sports Reporting
Second: Nick Franck, "Super Fan," The Blaze, 1330 AM

Online Awards

Best Affiliated Web Site
First: Staff,

Best Independent Online Student Publication
First: Staff, "Who Can Vote?" News21
Second: Staff, Downtown Devil

Feature Photography
First: Aaron Lavinsky, “Painting the Painted Desert,”

General News Photography
First: Aaron Lavinksy, "Election Night," The State Press

Online Feature Reporting
First: Natasha Khan and Fara Illich, "Dominican Immigrants Fight for Land Rights in Puerto Rico," Cronkite Borderlands Initiative
Third: Ana Ramirez, "Visual Artist-Space Paintings,"

Online In-Depth Reporting
Second: Maryann Batlle and Carl Straumsheim, "States Vary Widely on Restoring Voting Rights for Felons," News21

Online News Reporting
Third: Brandon Ross and Alyssa Deitsch, "Can a Piece of Paper Block Border Smuggling Tunnels? New Law Will Try," Cronkite News Service

Online Opinion & Commentary
First: Gabriel Radley, Columns, Downtown Devil

Print Awards

Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper
First: Staff, The State Press

Breaking News Photography
Second: Murphy Bannerman, “Obama Supporters,” The State Press

Breaking News Reporting 
First: Dustin Volz and Victoria Pelham, "SB1070 Arguments before Supreme Court," Cronkite News Service

Feature Writing
First: Maryann Batlle, "Violent Campaign for Puerto Rican Independence Shatters Families on both Sides of the Fight," Cronkite Borderlands Initiative

General Column Writing
First: Savannah Thomas, The State Press

General News Reporting
First: AJ Vicens and Natasha Khan, "Voters Feel Intimidated by Election Observers," News21 

In-Depth Reporting
First: Natasha Khan and Corbin Carson, "Comprehensive Database of U.S. Voter Fraud Uncovers No Evidence That Photo ID is Needed," News21
Third: Sarah Pringle, "State's Workplace-safety Efforts Focus Primarily on Construction," Cronkite News Service 

Non-Fiction Magazine Article
Third: Veronica Jones, "The Cannabis Consigliere," cronkitezine

Photo Illustration
Second: John Sullivan, The State Press