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Cronkite student wins coveted Edward R. Murrow Award

April 07, 2010

An ASU journalism student won an Edward R. Murrow Award, one of the most prestigious honors in professional broadcast journalism.

Colton Shone, 21, a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, won the Murrow Award for a story he reported and produced for KTAR-FM in Phoenix. The winning story, a Halloween feature on a haunted maze in Glendale, won in the “Use of Sound” category for large market radio stations in Region 3, which covers Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The Murrow Awards are given annually by the Radio Television Digital News Association. Shone’s award was one of five in the Phoenix market. KTAR won three others, and KTVW, Phoenix’s Univision-owned television station, also won.

Shone’s Murrow-winning story also is a finalist for The Associated Press’s Mark Twain Awards.

“Colton is a tremendous talent,” said Aaron Brown, the former CNN anchor who is now the Walter Cronkite Professor of Journalism at ASU. Brown, who won a national Murrow Award for his CNN coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said the award is one of broadcast journalism’s highest honors.

“For a student to win a Murrow is nothing short of extraordinary,” Brown said.

Last June, following his sophomore year, Shone won the Hearst Journalism Awards national radio reporting championship in San Francisco against other national Hearst winners. The Hearst Foundation awarded him a $5,000 grant for that honor. Previously, he won a Hearst Award for radio feature reporting for stories about a tattoo artist in Glendale and new technology to rid grocery carts of germs and bacteria.

Shone is a Phoenix native and 2007 graduate of Central High School, where he was a nationally ranked speaker in debate.

“I’ve always liked telling stories,” he said. “News always fascinated me. When I was 7 or 8, I would watch ‘Nightline’ with my parents …. My mom and dad would always be watching the local news and I would imitate them. This is what I always wanted.”

Shone enrolled in the Cronkite School in fall 2007 as part of the first class of a four-year joint bachelor’s/master’s degree program offered to Cronkite students who also are in ASU’s Barrett Honors College.

Since then he has been working through the intensive four-year program while reporting for KTAR during the week and interning at ABC15 on the weekends as well as stringing for the Navajo Times newspaper.

“It’s hard to maintain a balance, but it’s something I have to do,” Shone said. “I don’t sleep much, and I’m stressed out, but when something like this happens, it really starts to pay off.”

Next week he is submitting a TV documentary he has produced for his Barrett Honors College thesis on Native Americans in newsrooms and coverage of Native American issues.

Shone, who is Navajo, said the underrepresentation of Native American journalists leads to a lack of coverage of issues important to those communities. He has traveled around the state to talk with Native American students and with the few Native American television journalists.

Shone also is working on a project in Professor Rick Rodriguez’s in-depth reporting class on the estimated 18,000 homes on the Navajo reservation that have no electricity. The story is personal to Shone. His 85-year-old grandfather lived without power on the reservation until 18 months ago.

Shone said when KTAR decided to enter his Halloween piece for the Murrow competition, “I didn’t think there was a chance I’d get it. I’m working alongside seasoned veterans who have done this for 20 years.”

And when he got news of the award, he didn’t realize what a big deal it is. But then the avalanche of congratulations began pouring in.

“It’s crazy. It’s absolutely wonderful,” he said. “Everyone at the station is so happy for me. My editors and even past professors have come up to me to say congratulations.”

Knight Professor Steve Doig, a Pulitzer Prize winner, played the winning piece for the entire class. “For two minutes I felt completely embarrassed,” Shone said.

As a regional Murrow winner, Shone is automatically eligible for the national awards competition later this year.
RTDNA, the world’s largest professional organization devoted to TV and radio journalism, has been recognizing outstanding journalism with the Murrow Awards since 1971.


Responses to Colton Shone's Edward R. Murrow Award:

“Here at ABC 15 we are accustomed to the journalistic excellence that our Cronkite School interns bring with them. Colton’s work shines, and we look forward to the wonderful stories yet to come.”
Janice Todd, vice president and general manager, KNXV-TV, ABC15

“The RTDNA Murrow awards are given out to the stations and individuals who produce the highest quality journalism in America. KTAR-FM is absolutely thrilled to have Colton Shone recognized by such a prestigious organization for his ability and creativity. It is unprecedented that someone so young has his name alongside that of Edward R. Murrow.  I am personally proud of Colton’s accomplishments. I remember interviewing him for our internship program when he was just a freshman.  In that time, he has grown from an intern answering phones to a staff reporter winning nationally recognized awards.  I sometimes have to remind myself that he is still a student. This latest accomplishment is a true reflection of his talent.”   
Pamela Hughes, managing editor, KTAR-FM

“For Colton to win such a prestigious award so early in his career certainly speaks volumes about the quality of his work. Perhaps more than that, though, it signals that young journalists like Colton, will be great guardians of our craft for decades to come.”
Joe Hengemuehler, news director, ABC15 News

“Colton has a wide range of talents at a young age – he can do audio and video; he’s a good writer, a good researcher and a persistent reporter. He’s the kind of student you look at and say “There’s the multimedia journalist of the future.’”
Rick Rodriguez, Carnegie Professor of Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

“Colton is smart, inquisitive and talented. I have dealt with him as a student and as an interviewer for KTAR, and he mightily impressed me in both settings. “
Tim McGuire, professor and Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

“Colton is one of the most talented and energetic students I’ve ever had.  His work ethic and professionalism were a valuable asset in the Radio Reporting class, and he went the extra mile to share his technical expertise with the other students in a very collegial manner.  The fact that he was already working for KTAR was never an issue, and, if anything, Colton tended to downplay his professional experience unless it was to help out a fellow student.”
Michael Casavantes, lecturer, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

“Colton is a special talent who keeps topping his every feat. As a freshman, he interned at KTAR in Phoenix and performed so well that he was rewarded with a job. As a sophomore, he won the Hearst Awards national championship in radio reporting.  And his junior year?  Colton wins a Murrow Award.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Mike Wong, director of Career Services, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

“In 25 years of teaching broadcast news students, I rarely have seen such natural raw talent.  Most importantly, though, Colton is humble and teachable. As his honors project director I was so impressed with how quickly he grasped a complicated but deeply personal subject: Why are not more Native Americans working in local TV news? A crisp and clear broadcast writer, Colton is the exact type of young broadcast journalist that would make Walter Cronkite proud!”
B. William Silcock, associate professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

“Colton is in my Graduate Research Methods class learning statistics and data analysis, two skills not often used in radio journalism. But NPR has hired a data cruncher and started doing packages based on computer-assisted reporting, so I expect Colton will be a good candidate for a job like that someday. In the meantime, I played his winning clip today to much applause from his fellow students.”
Stephen Doig, professor and Knight Chair in Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication