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Cronkite students dominate broadcast awards

March 31, 2008

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University won more awards than any other school in the nation in the latest Broadcast Education Association (BEA) annual news reporting and interactive media contests.

Cronkite students won 13 awards, including two of the top honors given by the BEA: Best of Festival for the nation’s top college TV reporter, the highest award given to an individual student, and Best News Team. Cronkite students also swept the interactive multimedia group projects division of the BEA competition, taking first, second, third and honorable mention.

The BEA results mean that Cronkite students have finished first nationally in three major journalism competitions in the past year. The school was first last year in both the Hearst Journalism Awards and the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards.

“It’s a real testament to the quality of both our extraordinary students and the dedicated faculty who guide them,” said Dean Christopher Callahan.

Elias Johnson, who graduated in May 2007 and now reports for KDSM-TV, the FOX affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa, won the Best of Festival honor, the third year in a row that a Cronkite student has been named the nation’s best television reporter.

Johnson’s portfolio included stories about the rebuilding of New Orleans a year after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and a story about a serial rapist in the city of Chandler. The story about the serial rapist also placed first in the TV Hard News Reporting category.

Johnson, from Manson, Iowa, will receive his award April 18 at the BEA’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The award for Best News Team is based on points generated in the broadcast news reporting and newscast categories. Those students were part of Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s evening cable TV newscast led by News Director Mark Lodato and Cronkite News Service Director Sue Green, and the Blaze 1260 AM, the campus radio station led by Leah Miller Collins of the Cronkite staff.

There were nearly 400 entries in the broadcast competition.

In the interactive multimedia division, students took first place for a project they produced on the Gila River Indian Community near Phoenix. The Web site was created by students in Assistant Professor Carol Schwalbe’s advanced online media class, using content generated by students in a depth reporting class taught by Assistant Dean Kristin Gilger and faculty associate Judy Nichols. Schwalbe’s classes also produced two other winning entries in the category.

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.

Following is a complete list of 2007 BEA Cronkite School winners:

Broadcast:Best News Team, Cronkite School

Best College Television Reporter, Elias Johnson

Best Television Newscast, second, Cronkite NewsWatchTV

Hard News Reporting, first, Elias Johnson, “Chandler Rapist”

TV Feature Reporting, third, Erika Taillole, “Fatty Breakfast”

TV Sports Anchor, second, Evan Doherty, Cronkite NewsWatch

TV Sports Reporting, first, Jason Snavely, “Sundogs Hockey”

TV Sports Reporting, second, Evan Doherty, “Practice Squads”

Radio Hard News Reporting, third, Martha Castaneda, “Pit Bull Attack”

Interactive Media:

First: Gila River Indian Community, designed by Lorelei Cretu

Second: The Business of Death, designed by Tiffany Tcheng

Third: Arizona State Fair, designed by Lorelei Cretu

Award of Merit: The Business of Immigration, produced by Ashley M. Biggers