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Cronkite Graduate Wins 'Best in Business' Award

February 16, 2012

Elvina Nawaguna-Clemente, a recent graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, is the winner of an award honoring the nation’s top student-publication business story.

The award is given as part of Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ annual national “Best in Business” contest, which was established to set standards in business journalism. Awards will be formally presented at the national organization’s national conference in Indianapolis March 17.

Nawaguna-Clemente’s story, “Deteriorated Properties Prompt Battles between Struggling Towns, Professor” is one of only two student-reported pieces to be honored by SABEW this year. It marks the second year in a row that a Cronkite student has received the organization’s award for nation’s top student business story.

Nawaguna-Clemente reported and wrote the winning story while a student reporter in Cronkite News Service last fall. A former newspaper reporter in Uganda, she graduated from the Cronkite School in December 2011 with a specialization in business journalism. She is now a full-time business reporter for The Ledger daily newspaper in Lakeland, Fla.

“This is a wonderful surprise because when I moved here from Uganda four years ago I never imagined my journey would lead to such a prestigious award,” Nawaguna-Clemente said. “I couldn’t have done it without my supportive CNS editor Steve Elliott, the guidance of Len Downie Jr., and my professor and mentor Andrew Leckey, who saw potential in me from the very beginning and nurtured me as a business reporter.”

Nawaguna-Clemente worked under the direction of Elliott, CNS director of digital news and former Phoenix bureau chief of The Associated Press, and Downie, the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at Cronkite who was formerly executive editor of The Washington Post. While studying at Cronkite, she also was a Reynolds business journalism intern at BusinessJournalism.org and at The Arizona Republic.

“Elvina worked so diligently to master the knowledge and skills of business reporting that it was an honor to be her professor and watch her progress,” said Leckey, the Reynolds endowed chair in Business Journalism and president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at ASU. “Few journalists possess her ability to absorb the smallest details on a topic and carry them through to a dramatic conclusion, as she did with this story about a major issue involving towns in Arizona that might otherwise be overlooked.”

Her story involved extensive record searches and an in-depth investigation into the owner of dozens of dilapidated properties in remote communities such as Superior, Globe and Hayden, along with claims by leaders that the condition of those properties has hindered redevelopment and, in some cases, endangered the public. She examined notices of violation, court files and recorded documents to explore how the situation has affected the well-being of the communities.

Last year Jennifer Johnson, a 2010 Cronkite graduate, received the award for her CNS story on how a copper mining company paid large sums in order to receive approval for a project in an Arizona town.

SABEW was formed in 1964 to promote superior coverage of business and economic events and issues. It has more than 3,200 members across the world.