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Cronkite students best in the country

April 05, 2010

Students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU have outperformed all other students in the country in two major broadcast competitions.

For the second time in four years, Cronkite students finished first in the nation in the broadcast news portion of the prestigious Hearst Journalism Awards, often referred to as the Pulitzers of college journalism.

In addition, Cronkite students dominated the 2010 Broadcast Education Association contest that honors the best student work in broadcast and multimedia reporting. Judges in that competition named Cronkite NewsWatch the best student newscast in the country.

“Our broadcast students have consistently been recognized in national competitions,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “But winning both of these contests this year secures their place as the very best broadcast students in the country.”

In the Hearst awards, senior John Labarbera of Long Island, N.Y., took first place in radio multimedia reporting and Lindsey Reiser of Scottsdale was first in TV news reporting. The two of them, along with Toby Phillips of Albuquerque, N.M., who took third place in TV feature reporting, will compete for spots in the National Broadcast News Championships to take place in New York in June.

Following ASU in the Hearst awards were the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Pennsylvania State University.

The Cronkite School has finished first or second overall in the broadcast competition in six of the past eight years, including four championships. More than 100 accredited journalism schools from across the country participate each year. The competition is sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

In the BEA competition, Cronkite students won a total of 22 awards – four times the number won by any other school. Brigham Young University was second with six awards and Pennsylvania State University was third with five.

Cronkite NewsWatch won a BEA Best of Festival Award, a special recognition for top-ranked entries in each category. The 30-minute, student-produced television newscast has consistently won top national awards. It also is one of the few student newscasts to be aired in a major media market. KAET/Eight, Arizona’s public television station, began airing the newscast last year, giving it a prime-time slot on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the school year. It can be seen both on KAET digital (Cox Cable Channel 88) and over the air on digital channel 8.3 at 8 p.m.

The BEA received 690 student entries this year. Cronkite students will receive their national awards in Las Vegas April 14-16.

Three Cronkite School faculty and staff also won BEA awards. Leslie-Jean Thornton, assistant professor, received an Award of Excellence in the faculty interactive multimedia category, and Melanie Alvarez, NewsWatch supervising producer, and Jim Jacoby, production manager, won an Award of Excellence in the faculty documentary short form category for a video tribute to NBC News anchor Brian Williams.

The BEA is the professional association for professors, industry professionals and graduate students who are interested in teaching and research related to electronic media and multimedia enterprises. It has more than 1,400 members.