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19 Universities Join Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigation on Hate Crimes

February 21, 2018

Journalism students from 19 universities will conduct a major national investigation into hate crimes in the U.S. as part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia reporting initiative.

Headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21 was established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate that college journalism students can produce innovative, in-depth multimedia projects on a national scale.

Twenty-six students from journalism programs across the U.S., as well as Canada and Ireland, will join a dozen Cronkite students for the 2018 investigation. They will examine the major issues surrounding hate crimes in America.

The students are participating in a spring semester seminar in which they are conducting research, interviewing experts and beginning their reporting. The seminar is taught in person and via video conference by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism, and News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former senior editor for investigations and enterprise at the Houston Chronicle.

“We chose hate crimes and hate incidents as this year’s timely News21 topic because of the apparent increase throughout the country of such acts – from bullying and vandalism to assaults and murders – involving racial, religious, nationality, gender and sexual orientation bias,” Downie said. “With nearly 40 student journalists participating in the project, we are doing research and reporting in all 50 states. They are looking for patterns of hate incidents and hate group activities and the response of law enforcement and governments.”

Following the seminar, students move into paid summer fellowships, during which they work out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School and travel across the country to report and produce their stories. The students’ stories and multimedia will be posted on the project’s own destination website and published by news organizations that include The Washington Post, NBCNews.com, Center for Public Integrity, USA Today and many non-profit news websites.

“We will be able to do what many newsrooms cannot, which is to deploy dozens of student journalists to investigate the culture of hate and related acts of violence in every state in the nation,” Petchel said. “Not only do recent attacks on people of different races and religions call for it, it is the right thing to do in the name of public service journalism.”

Over the past eight years, Carnegie-Knight News21 projects have included investigations into voting rights, post-9/11 veterans, marijuana laws and guns in America, among other topics. The projects have won numerous awards, including four EPPY Awards from Editor & Publisher magazine, the Student Edward R. Murrow Award for video excellence, and a host of honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hearst Awards Program, considered the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism.

Cronkite fellows will be named later this semester. The other universities and their fellows are:

  • DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana: Brooks Hepp and Tilly Marlatt
  • Dublin City University, School of Communications, Dublin, Ireland: Rosanna Cooney and Catherine Devine
  • Elon University, School of Communications, Elon, North Carolina: Emmanuel Morgan
  • George Washington University, School of Media and Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.: Lillianna Byington
  • Indiana University, The Media School, Bloomington, Indiana: Carley Lanich
  • Kent State University, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent, Ohio: Brandon Bounds
  • Louisiana State University, Manship School of Mass Communication, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Katie Gagliano
  • Morgan State University, School of Global Journalism and Communication, Baltimore, Maryland: Penelope Blackwell
  • St. Bonaventure University, Jandoli School of Communication, St. Bonaventure, New York: Bryce Spadafora
  • Syracuse University, S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse, N.Y.: Garet Bleir and Lenny Martinez
  • University of British Columbia, Graduate School of Journalism, British Columbia, Canada: Anya Zoledziowski
  • University of Colorado Boulder, College of Media, Communication and Information, Boulder, Colorado: Tessa Diestel and Ashley Hopko
  • University of Iowa, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Iowa City, Iowa: Jasmine Putney
  • University of Mississippi, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, Oxford, Mississippi: Brittany Brown
  • University of North Texas, Mayborn School of Journalism, Denton, Texas: Kaylen Howard
  • University of Oklahoma, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Norman, Oklahoma: Abby Bitterman, Storme Jones, Emma Keith, Megan Ross and Rebecca Walters
  • University of Tennessee, School of Journalism & Electronic Media, Knoxville, Tennessee: Andrew Capps 
  • University of Texas at Austin, School of Journalism, Austin, Texas: Shelby Knowles

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides core support for the News21 program. Individual fellows are supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations, news organizations and philanthropists that include the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Hearst Foundations, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, International Ireland Funds, The Arizona Republic, The Dallas Morning News, Myrta J. Pulliam, John and Patty Williams, and Louis A. “Chip” Weil.