Journalism alum wins prestigious business reporting award

February 24, 2014

Less than a year after graduating, an alumnus of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is part of a reporting team that has won the prestigious George Polk Award for Business Reporting.

Lauren Kyger, a 2013 Cronkite School graduate, was named along with Alison Fitzgerald, Daniel Wagner and John Dunbar of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C. heashot of Lauren Kyger Download Full Image

The award honors the team’s expose, “After the Meltdown,” which examined the failure of regulators to hold major Wall Street players accountable for the reckless behavior that ignited an economic recession. The series probed the role of subprime lenders, banks and government regulators responsible for the crash five years after the fact.

Kyger interned at the center following her graduation last May and helped research and write stories on former Bear Stearns mortgage executives and government regulators such as Christopher Cox, the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The internship was an incredible experience and I am proud to have worked on such an impactful series,” Kyger said. “This is an award that Walter Cronkite won at one point in his career, and to be mentioned in the same breath means more than words can describe.”

Kyger was among the 30 recipients from 15 news organizations to receive a 2013 Polk Award, which will be presented in New York on April 11. This fall, she will begin a two-year master’s program in global business journalism at Tsinghua University in Beijing through the Hinrich Global Trade China Fellowship Program.

"As an excellent Cronkite business journalism student, Lauren continually tackled major business and international issues," said Reynolds Chair Andrew Leckey, a Fulbright Scholar teaching in China this semester. "Achieving this Polk Award as an intern and her upcoming fellowship in China dramatize the remarkable career trajectory of this talented young journalist."

Steve Doig, Knight Chair in Journalism at the Cronkite School, won a 2011 George Polk Award for his work with California Watch, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization. Doig and his California Watch colleagues Christina Jewett and Lance Williams were honored for a yearlong series of articles that exposed a pattern of suspicious Medicare billing at Prime Healthcare Services, a California-based hospital chain.

Established in 1949, the George Polk Awards are given each year by Long Island University to honor special achievements in journalism. The awards place a premium on investigative and enterprise reporting that gains attention and achieves results. The Polk Awards commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek Civil War.

The Center for Public Integrity is one of the country’s oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations. Established in 1989, it was founded to serve democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of public trust by powerful public and private institutions.

Leaders discuss Arizona's new energy plan at Solar Summit

February 24, 2014

Policy leaders, industry partners and energy experts gathered at ASU SkySong Feb. 20 to discuss the future of solar energy in Arizona at Arizona Solar Summit IV. The event featured the first public unveiling of the state’s new master energy plan, “emPOWER Arizona: Executive Energy Assessment and Pathways.” Gov. Jan Brewer signed the executive order on Feb. 18, making it the state’s first comprehensive energy plan in more than 20 years.

The Arizona Solar Summit – hosted by Arizona State University LightWorks, ASU SkySong and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and sponsored by NRG – provided the first opportunity for the public to learn about the master plan. Leisa Brug, Brewer’s energy policy advisor and director of the Governor's Office of Energy Policy, led a panel discussion on the plan and its goals. Brug said that Arizona is already ahead of other states in terms of energy policy, and the new master plan will help the state continue to be a national leader in the field. William Harris, president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona Download Full Image

“We’ll be a national model,” Brug said. “We see this as a tremendous way to buoy up our solar industry.”

The plan seeks to make Arizona a "collaboratory" of policy leaders, energy experts and universities.

“We have tremendous opportunity in this state,” said Gary Dirks, director of the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability and ASU Lightworks. “Arizona has excellent physical and intellectual assets to advance the new plan and make Arizona an energy leader.”

Arizona’s new energy plan wasn’t the only issue covered at the event. Brug’s was among several panels that touched on topics critical to the state’s solar industry, including the future of utility sector, carbon dioxide mitigation, energy efficiency in the built environment and more.

Keynote speaker William Harris, president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona, encouraged the audience to get engaged with the issue of climate change. He illustrated the way carbon dioxide emissions have rapidly increased since the Industrial Revolution and expressed a need to optimize our current system, starting with K-12 education.

"People use this word ‘sustainability’ so often I don’t even know what it means,” Harris said. “I like how Charlie Bayless described it: ‘Treat the planet like you intend to stay.’ Get involved, stay involved and work with this issue."

The Arizona Solar Summit seeks to create meaningful change in the solar industry by bringing together solar experts in a variety of fields and creating networks of active participants in new solar technology, energy policy and forward-thinking innovations to reshape and revitalize Arizona’s energy markets. This year’s summit is part of the inaugural Walton Sustainability Solutions Festival, an ASU initiative that encourages and celebrates innovators, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers who seek to find solutions to sustainability challenges.

With more than 300 days of sunshine per year, access to high-quality public research institutions and a plethora of energy industry experts, Arizona is naturally poised to create a high-impact solar economy and be a global leader in solar energy.

For more information about the Arizona Solar Summit, visit