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Carnegie-Knight News21 Wins First Place in Best of the West Contest

May 7, 2021

Carnegie-Knight News21’s “Kids Imprisoned,” a project about the American juvenile criminal justice system, was awarded first place in Online Presentation for the Best of the West 2021 contest.

By Lisa Diethelm

Carnegie-Knight News21’s “Kids Imprisoned,” a project about the American juvenile criminal justice system, was awarded first place in Online Presentation for the Best of the West 2021 contest.

News21 outperformed professional journalists from established newspapers, placing above the Los Angeles Times, which was awarded second, and the Seattle Times, which earned third place for Online Presentation in the professional contest. Stephen Bohner, deputy editor for curation and platforms at the Washington Post, judged 27 entries for the category.

“News21’s ‘Kids Imprisoned’ has the most extensive and creative online presentation of this year’s entries. The landing page has a unique scrolling graphic that guides the reader through the series,” he wrote. “There are numerous podcasts and videos available. The stories are packed with photos, illustrations, interactive graphics, document cutouts and related links, creating a well-rounded visual experience.”

“Kids Imprisoned” covers an eight-month investigation into how justice for American juveniles is handed down disproportionately, with 23 main investigative and explanatory stories, 35 additional reports with photo illustrations, and a seven-part podcast and several video stories on the impact of the juvenile justice system on communities, families and victims.

Unlike past News21 projects, “Kids Imprisoned” was completed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and executive editor for News21, led the remote newsroom for the project, along with assistant editor Maureen West.

The project brought together 35 student journalists from 16 universities who reported virtually from home or home campuses across the country. Alex Lancial, multimedia, design editor and project manager of “Kids Imprisoned” at News21, said that the project came together, despite fellows and the News21 staff working remotely on Zoom every day throughout the pandemic.

“Awards are nice and they're great, but the most important thing is that the storytelling is good and the project is good. Winning it and being in the company with LA Times and the Seattle Times — it's really special,” Lancial said.

Assisting with the design were Jennifer Swanson, the photo and multimedia editor, and Adnan Alam, the web application developer. News21 fellow Michele Abercrombie also contributed to the multimedia design.

News21 is an in-depth journalism and multi-university collaborative based at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Each year, News21 brings together top journalism students from across the country to cover national issues.

News21 was established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2005. Fifteen years later, the program continues to produce groundbreaking and innovating reporting on major national topics from top journalism students.

Since 1987, the Best of the West has honored newspapers, magazines and news websites for journalism excellence in the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The 2020 News21 journalism students who worked on “Kids Imprisoned,” their universities, and their named fellowships are listed below:

Michele Abercrombie, Syracuse University
Jana Allen, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
José-Ignacio Castañeda Perez, ASU, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
Kelsey Collesi, ASU, Buffett Foundation Fellow
Layne Dowdall, St. Bonaventure University
Brody Ford, University of Illinois-Chicago
Joslyn Fox, DePauw University, Myrta J. Pulliam Fellow
Sorell Grow, Butler University
Abigail Hall, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
Matthew Hendley, University of Mississippi
Daja E. Henry, ASU, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Fellow
Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw, University of Iowa, Murray Endowment Fellow
Chloe Johnson, Morgan State University
Delia C. Johnson, ASU, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Fellow
Chloe Jones, ASU, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Fellow
Molly Kruse, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
Braela Kwan, University of British Columbia
Gretchen Lasso, Kent State University, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick Fellow
Franco LaTona, ASU, Don Bolles/Arizona Republic Fellow
Patrick Linehan, Syracuse University
Byron Mason, DePauw University, Myrta J. Pulliam Fellow
Lindsey Nichols, University of Colorado Boulder
Haillie Parker, ASU, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
Kimberly Rapanut, ASU, Buffett Foundation Fellow
Jill Ryan, ASU, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
Calah Schlabach, ASU, Buffett Foundation Fellow
Ike Somanas, University of Nebraska, Buffett Foundation Fellow
Nicole Sroka, University of Illinois-Chicago
Katherine Sypher, ASU, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Fellow
Gabriela Szymanowska, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, John and Patty Williams Fellow
Victoria Traxler, Elon University
Jeffrey Uveino, St. Bonaventure University
Anthony J. Wallace, ASU, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Fellow
Morgan Wallace, University of Nebraska, Buffett Foundation Fellow
James Wooldridge, University of Nebraska, Buffett Foundation Fellow