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Cronkite Earns Top Awards at National Native Media Competition

October 22, 2020

NAJAawards

By Mario Baralta

Students and alumni from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University took home six first-place awards during the 2020 National Native Media Awards, the most out of any school in the nation.

In total, Cronkite students and alumni took home 13 awards in a variety of categories, including television, writing, photography and online news. Their reporting provided in-depth coverage of issues important to Native American communities.

Cronkite News, the student-produced and faculty-led news organization of Arizona PBS, continued with its strong coverage of indigenous communities. The media outlet earned 11 NAJA awards, with five of them being first-place accolades.

“We’re proud of the work our students have done covering Native American communities,” Cronkite News Executive Editor Christina Leonard said. “We are committed to sharing the voices of indigenous peoples and uncovering stories often overlooked by others. Our students work hard at approaching these stories with care and respect, and we’re honored by these awards and the recognition of those efforts.”

Cronkite also fared well in last year’s National Native Media Competition, earning seven first-place awards and 10 other placements across radio, TV, writing and online categories -- again the most of any school in the nation.

Recent Cronkite alumna Jordan Elder received the top awards in both television categories. Her piece titled “Powering a Nation: New energy for Navajos” highlighted the challenges Navajo Nation faces as they transition from coal to renewable energy. Her package “Tribal reaction to impeachment” focused on Native Americans’ response to the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Her work earned top honors in the Best Feature Story and Best News Story categories, respectively.

Additionally, Cronkite alumna Taylor Notah earned top honors for her work as a reporter for ASU’s Turning Points Magazine. Notah received first and second place for Best Feature Story under the Print category. “The footsteps of the Dawa-Chindi Club,” which provides a historical look at the club’s beginnings, earned Notah first place. She also took home second place in the same category for “A legacy gives back,” making her the only honoree to receive both awards in a subcategory.

“This is the second year in a row that Cronkite students have surpassed all other college students in the National Native Media Awards,” said Kristin Gilger, Cronkite interim dean. “It’s one measure of the importance we place on quality coverage of Native American peoples and issues.”

A journalist at Indian Country Today, which is headquartered at the Cronkite School, received first place in Best Environmental Coverage under the Print/Online category. The digital news platform is the largest news site that covers tribes and Native people nationwide.

This year’s winners were recognized during a virtual National Native Media Awards ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. The annual competition received over 550 entries across seven student and professional categories.

About NAJA
NAJA serves and empowers Native journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Native cultures. For more than 30 years, NAJA has remained committed to increasing the representation of American Indian journalists working in media, while encouraging both mainstream and tribal media to attain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and responsibility.

Full List of Cronkite/ASU NAJA winners:

TV - Best Feature Story

First Place
Jordan Elder
Cronkite News
“Powering a Nation: New Energy for Navajos”

Second Place
Marcella Baietto
Cronkite News
“Navajos Seek Gold in Hemp”

TV - Best News Story

First Place
Jordan Elder
Cronkite News
“Tribal Reaction to Impeachment”

Online - Best News Story

Second Place
Keerthi Vedantam
Cronkite News
“In Indian Country, Potholes can be a Bump in the Road to an Education”

Honorable Mention
Keerthi Vedanham
Cronkite News
“Thin on Broadband: Tribal Areas still Struggle with Lagging Technology”

Online - Best Feature Story

First Place
Vivian Meza
Cronkite News
“Kinaaldà: A Navajo Girl Comes of Age in Traditional Ceremony”

Second Place
Jake Goodrick
Cronkite News
“Bus of dreams: Ganado Driver Hopes to Inspire Students with Snapshots, Words of Greatness”

Print - Best Feature Story

First Place
Taylor Notah
Turning Points Magazine
“The Footsteps of the Dawa-Chindi Club”

Second Place
Taylor Notah
Turning Points Magazine
“A Legacy of Giving Back”

Print/Online - Best Sports Story

First Place
Anthony Totri
Cronkite News
“ASU’s Visit to Navajo Nation was about more than just basketball”

Second Place
Christopher Lindsay
Cronkite News
“Racist taunts aimed at Native American High School Athletes Denounced”

Print/Online - Best Feature Photo

First Place
Delia Johnson
Cronkite News
“Historical Trauma: Woman Protester”

Print/Online - Best News Photo

Second Place
Delia Johnson
Cronkite News
Historical trauma: Native Communities grapple with Missing and Murdered Women

Print/Online - Best Environmental Coverage

First Place
Danielle Johnson
Indian Country Today
“Who is Manoomin?”