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Student investigation on voting rights wins EPPY award

November 29, 2012

A major national investigation into voting rights in the U.S. by Carnegie-Knight News21 has received a 2012 EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher magazine.

“Who Can Vote?” is the 2012 project of News21, a multimedia investigative reporting initiative funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Twenty-four students from 11 universities across the country worked on the project under the direction of journalism professionals.

The EPPY Awards, presented annually by Editor & Publisher, recognize the industry’s best media-affiliated websites across 31 diverse categories, including three honoring excellence in college and university journalism. Entries are judged by more than 60 industry experts on criteria such as design, ease of use, comprehensiveness, timeliness and interactivity.

“Who Can Vote?” won in the category of best college/university investigative or documentary report. The winners will be featured in the December 2012 issue of Editor & Publisher.     

The project began in the spring semester with a video-conferenced seminar on voting rights taught by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School. The students heard from experts and conducted extensive research on voting and voting rights.

During the summer, they participated in an intensive 10-week investigative reporting fellowship based out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix. Sharon Rosenhause, former managing editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the San Francisco Examiner, served as managing editor of the project.

The fellows traveled to more than 40 cities, 21 states and one U.S. territory, conducted more than 1,000 interviews, requested thousands of public records and reviewed nearly 5,000 documents. Their most ambitious effort was to gather, organize and analyze all reported cases of election fraud in the U.S. since 2000, building the most comprehensive database of its kind.

The finished project, launched just before the 2012 political conventions, consists of more than 20 in-depth reports and rich multimedia content that includes interactive databases and data visualizations, video profiles and photo galleries. Major media partners that have published all or part of the project include The Washington Post,, National Public Radio, The Center for Public Integrity, The Philadelphia Inquirer, nonprofit investigative online sites affiliated with the Investigative News Network and New America Media, which represents ethnic media.