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Journalism students win recognition, awards

June 07, 2013

Students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University earned recognition this spring for accomplishments in reporting, producing, photography, entrepreneurship and digital innovation.

The accolades include the Emmy Foundation’s highest collegiate award, an Arizona Press Club award for the state’s best student photographer and recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists.

A complete list of recent awards:

College Television Awards

Kristin Couturier and Amber McMurray were recognized by the Emmy Foundation at the 34th annual College Television Awards for Best Newscast. Each year, judges for the College Television Awards comb through entries from hundreds of colleges and universities around the country, evaluating them for excellence in overall production. The winners are honored at a gala in Los Angeles and receive cash awards, industry recognition and face time with television executives.

Couturier and McMurray were recognized for their 2012 work as producers of Cronkite NewsWatch, the school's student-produced newscast. Couturier received her master’s degree from the Cronkite School in December 2012 and McMurray graduated with a bachelor’s degree last month.

Cronkite NewsWatch airs four days a week during the academic year on Eight World, a digital channel of Eight-Arizona PBS that reaches 1.1 million homes across the state.

College Photographer of the Year Award

Cronkite student Aaron Lavinsky was honored as the 2012 College Photographer of the Year for Arizona by the Arizona Press Club. The Arizona Photojournalism Awards program also honors professional still and video photography in categories ranging from news to sports. It is judged by journalists from The New York Times. Lavinsky’s award, which recognizes a portfolio of his work, includes a $1,000 scholarship.

Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative

Arielle Hurst, a student in Cronkite’s New Media Innovation Lab, and her team of ASU students were finalists for the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative - an accelerator program that encourages entrepreneurially-oriented students to develop and grow new ventures. The contest grants $5,000 to $20,000 to winning student teams to help develop their concepts, along with mentorship, training and office space at the Edson facilities, located at the ASU SkySong campus in Scottsdale.

Hurst worked with three other ASU students – economics major Bethany McClure, construction engineering major Yash Lalwani and business finance major Devesh Tuteja – to create a project they have dubbed “Accelerant,” a Web-based tool designed to encourage student entrepreneurs to collaborate and connect. The platform utilizes a match-making software that pairs student entrepreneurs across campus based on complementary skill sets, then allows newfound teams to coordinate remotely with conferencing and project management capabilities.

NABJ Salute to Excellence National Media Awards

The Carnegie-Knight National News21 project “Who Can Vote?” is a finalist in the 2013 National Association of Black Journalists’ annual awards competition recognizing journalism that best covers the black experience or addresses issues affecting the worldwide black community. Awards are given in print, broadcast and online journalism categories.

The News21 voting rights project is one of three singled out for recognition in the Online Project: News category, along with another voting rights project produced by The Nation, a national weekly political magazine, and a report on fair housing in America produced by ProPublica, a national, independent, nonprofit investigative newsroom.

The voting rights project was produced as part of the national News21 program headquartered at the Cronkite School, which brings together top journalism students from around the country to produce multimedia investigative reports on topics of national significance.

Biotech University

Three Cronkite students won top honors in the 2013 ASU Biotech University contest. Brittany Morris, a junior, won the grand prize, a trip to an international biotechnology conference this summer. Morris’ winning entry was a multimedia report titled, “BioTransformation in Biotechnology.” Domenico Nicosia, a sophomore, and Kaard Bombe, a freshman, each won $1,500 academic scholarships. Nicosia created print and digital reports on “Future Biotechnologists: Students of Today Shaping the Science of Tomorrow,” and Bombe did a multimedia report on “Unraveling GMOs – A Call for Education About Diets.” The students were part of Biotech University, a one‐day spring seminar that introduces journalism students to the emerging science of biotechnology. It was sponsored by the United Soybean Board and co-sponsored by the ASU Biodesign Institute and Arizona Farm Bureau.

Obesity Solutions Challenge

The Cronkite School's New Media Innovation Lab was a finalist for the Obesity Solutions Challenge, part of an ASU partnership with the Mayo Clinic to find solutions for combatting obesity. The lab’s proposal focused on designing a smart phone app that helps people reduce obesity by reducing stress, rather than by using typical approaches, such as counting calories or tracking food consumption. 

The proposal was among nine finalists for the challenge, which offered entrepreneurs the chance to win up to $10,000 in seed funding for their ventures, along with office space, mentoring and the opportunity to present their ideas to real-world investors through ASU’s Venture Catalyst Program.  

The New Media Innovation Lab brings together Cronkite students with others across the university to research and develop digital products for the news media and other industries.

The Arizona Partnership for Immunization “Big Shot” Award

Recent Cronkite graduate Danielle Verbrigghe was recognized by The Arizona Partnership for Immunization for a December story about a growing number of parents who are declining to get their children vaccinated and the fears of health officials that this could lead to an increase in sometimes-lethal diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough and chickenpox.

Verbrigghe wrote and reported the story while working as a student reporter in Cronkite News Service, an immersive professional program, in which students cover public policy issues for Arizona. The “Big Shots for Arizona” program recognizes individuals and organizations that spotlight immunization in Arizona.

Princeton in Asia Fellowship

Julie Vitkovskaya, who graduated from the Cronkite School last month, has been selected as a Princeton in Asia Fellow. Vitkovskaya, the executive editor of The State Press, ASU's award-winning student newspaper, will spend the next year working for a media company in Korea.

The Princeton in Asia Fellow program, founded in 1898, is a nonprofit foundation affiliated with Princeton University. It awards more than 165 highly competitive fellowships in 20 countries, placing students with Asian host organizations in the fields of education, health, international development, environmental advocacy, journalism, law and business.

Press Visit to the European Union

Two Cronkite students were among top graduate students from around the country selected to participate in a press visit to the European Union sponsored by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

Cronkite graduate students Mary Shinn and Lorri Allen spent a week in Brussels hearing from senior officials from the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the European Council, the European Parliament and Brussels-based U.S. diplomats on topics such as the global financial crisis, climate change and foreign policy challenges. The program is designed to build understanding of the European Union, its structure, policies and decision-making procedures, as well as the EU's relationship with the United States.

Participating students came from leading U.S. journalism schools with graduate programs in journalism and communications, including Columbia University, Northwestern University and the University of California at Berkeley.