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Students win recognition for public relations, news efforts

July 16, 2009

Students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University are winning recognition for work ranging from public awareness campaigns to international news reporting and multimedia reporting projects. 

The recent accolades include several awards, including a Webby honor; a multimedia reporting project that is being showcased by the Online News Association; and a national student magazine contest.

Best of the West Award

Cronkite student Andrew Prentis won the 2009 Best of the West collegiate award for sports reporting.

His story, "Letting go of it all," profiles ASU pitcher Josh Satow. Judge Corydon Ireland Writer of the Harvard University Gazette, said, "The writer draws a series of pictures that created a you-are-there feeling, listening alongside the reporter. Good writing, and the clipped, neat, short paragraphs kept the narrative moving."

The Best of the West contest awards three collegiate journalism awards – for sports writing, feature writing and general reporting. It is one of the West’s most prestigious contests, drawing nearly 2,000 entries each year from journalists in the 13 states from the Rockies west to Alaska and Hawaii. The college contest began in 2005 and covers the same region.

Robert Novak Collegiate Journalism Award

Cronkite student James Kindle took second place in the 2009 Robert Novak Collegiate Journalism Award, which recognizes excellence in collegiate reporting that demonstrates an understanding of the basic ideas that support a free society. Kindle was part of a group of students who went to South Africa last summer to report on the lives of immigrants. He wrote about a Zimbabwe woman who was beaten, raped and nearly killed for her political activism; refugees from Angola who fled their country because of violence and now live in a displacement camp in South Africa; and a high-rise apartment building in Johannesburg that teams with dozens of nationalities struggling to live in peace.

The award is one of three sponsored by the Institute on Political Journalism, the collegiate journalism program of The Fund for American Studies. Kindle was awarded $2,500.

Kindle’s work includes "Scarred," "Divided They Stand," and "Johannesburg’s Babel Falls."

Public Awareness Campaign

Cronkite students took second in a national Collegiate STD Awareness Month campaign contest for their work creating a public awareness campaign that warns of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. 

The award was given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

The campaign was developed by three graduate students in the Cronkite public relations lab under the direction of Cronkite assistant professor Xu Wu. The students are Ashley Panter, Katie Charland and Chrissy Koczenasz. Wu said the award was especially meaningful because it came in the lab’s very first semester of operation. It is, he said, proof that "we can compete with any school at the national level." First place went to the University of Missouri.

Webby Award

A Cronkite student project on South Africa is one of the honorees of the 2009 Webby Awards in the student category. 

The project, "South Africa: At the Crossroads of Hate and Hope," can be seen on the Cronkite Zine at

The multimedia project is the work of 10 Cronkite students and two professors – Carol Schwalbe and Susan Green – who traveled to South Africa  in June 2008 to document the lives of immigrants.

Their work, which was funded through a generous grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, was selected for top recognition from among nearly 10,000 entries received from all 50 states and more than 60 countries.

The official honoree distinction is awarded to the top 15 percent of all work entered that exhibits remarkable achievement.   

ONA Showcase

A project on families divided by the U.S.-Mexico border has been selected by the Online News Association as an example of effective multimedia storytelling. The project, "Divided Families," was produced by students in an In-Depth Reporting class taught by assistant dean Kristin Gilger and developed for the Web by an advanced online media class taught by Assistant Professor Carol Schwalbe with assistance from student Nancie Dodge.

The ONA chose the project for inclusion in its "Interactive Narratives: The Best in Multimedia Storytelling" in the border category, along with projects from The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Arizona Daily Star.

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

For the third year in a row, students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication came out on top in a national student magazine contest.

Students won a total of seven awards in the 2009 contest sponsored by the Magazine Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, tying with Northwestern University and Drake University. Arizona State University students won more awards than any other school in the country in each of the last two years. This year Cronkite students took two first-place awards in the contest and, for the second year in a row, swept the Specialized Business Press Article category.

Winning first were James Kindle and W. J. Hennigan, who graduated from the Cronkite School in May. They will each receive $100. "HealthE: Environments, Elements, Experiences," a health magazine created by a magazine class co-taught by associate professor Carol Schwalbe and assistant professor Jamil AlShraiky, won awards for magazine design and editorial content.

The competition attracted 232 entries from 23 universities in the United States and Canada. Judges were publishers, editors and writers for consumer and specialized business magazines.

AEJMC is the nation’s leading journalism education organization. It is made up of about 3,500 journalism and mass communication faculty, administrators, students and media professionals from around the world.