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For the second year in a row, a major national investigation by Carnegie-Knight News21 has received an EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher magazine.
“Back Home,” an in-depth News21 investigation into the enduring battles facing post-9/11 veterans, won for best college/university investigative or documentary report. Headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, News21 is a multimedia reporting initiative funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The EPPY Awards recognize the best media-affiliated websites across 31 diverse categories, including three honoring excellence in college and university journalism. Entries are judged by a panel of notable figures in the media industry, chosen by Editor & Publisher staff. Last year, News21 won an EPPY in the same category for its national investigation into voting rights.
This year’s project started in the spring 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. This summer, 26 students from 12 universities participated in an intensive 10-week reporting fellowship based out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacquee Petchel, former senior editor for investigations and enterprise at the Houston Chronicle, served as managing editor of the project.
The fellows traveled to more than 60 cities and 20 states, conducting hundreds of interviews and reviewing tens of thousands of public records and government reports. Their most ambitious effort was to gather, organize and analyze all reported veteran suicides from health records in every state in the nation. Not even the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has completed such an exhaustive analysis.
Launched in August, the finished multimedia project features dozens of stories, videos, photos and graphics, documenting the experience of veterans as they navigate a federal bureaucracy that is often overwhelmed and ill-equipped to help them. The Washington Post, NBCnews.com and The Philadelphia Inquirer are among the news organizations that published major portions of the project.
In addition to the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation, News21 is supported by The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation of Omaha, Neb., and Women & Philanthropy, part of ASU’s Foundation for a New American University.