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A national investigation by Carnegie-Knight News21 into the fate of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan has received the Online News Association’s top award for student reporting in 2014.
“Back Home: The Enduring Battles Facing Post-9/11 Veterans” won in the large student reporting category and was the only project recognized in that category. The world’s largest organization of online journalists, the Online News Association also recognized work done by the Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times, Pro Publica and the Center for Public Integrity among other organizations. The contest is the only journalism contest that honors excellence in digital journalism, focusing on independent, community, nonprofit, academic and major media. A group of 60 journalists and new media professionals screened entrants and selected finalists before 12 judges chose the winners.
The project on veterans was produced by 26 students from 12 universities who were part of the 2014 News21 program, headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. The national investigative reporting program brings together top journalism students from across the country together each year to report on an issue of national import.
“It’s not only an honor to be recognized with this national award on such an important topic, but it’s also a testament that teaching and supporting innovative journalism education really matters,” Carnegie-Knight News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel said. “This project was passionately driven by ASU students and their counterparts across the country. All the credit goes to them for their creativity and excellence.”
Students participating in the “Back Home” project traveled to more than 60 cities and 20 states for the 10-week investigative reporting fellowship. The project started in spring 2013 with a seminar taught in-person and via teleconference by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism.
Students produced dozens of stories, videos and photos documenting the experience of veterans as they negotiate a federal bureaucracy that is often overwhelmed and ill-equipped to help them. The Washington Post, NBC News and The Philadelphia Inquirer were among the news organizations that published major portions of the project, which has received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists, Editor & Publisher magazine and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
The Online News Association is dedicated to inspiring innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. Membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers, academics, students and others who produce and distribute news for digital delivery systems.
Carnegie-Knight News21 was established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The “Back Home” project was also supported by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation and Women & Philanthropy, part of ASU’s Foundation for a New American University.