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Cronkite Graduates Win 'Best in Business' Awards

March 22, 2011

Two recent graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University won national business reporting awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

The awards were given by the society in its 16th annual national “Best in Business” contest, which was established to set standards in business journalism.

December graduate Jennifer Johnson was recognized as having the nation's best student-publication business story of 2010 for her story on copper mining pacts.

Her work, done while she was a Cronkite student, was one of only two student-reported pieces to win a SABEW award this year. Johnson is a graduate of the Cronkite School master’s program, specializing in business journalism. Her winning story was undertaken as part of her culminating experience in the Cronkite School’s professional reporting immersion program, Cronkite News Service.

She is currently in New York interning on the stocks team at Bloomberg, a major media outlet that provides financial and business news, information and analytics.

“It was such a wonderful surprise and honor to win one of the student Best in Business awards from SABEW this year,” Johnson said. “Both Cronkite News Service and the business journalism specialization gave me the training and mentoring I needed to develop my story and keep pursuing it even when it got tough.”

Writing the piece, Johnson worked under the direction of CNS Director of Digital News Steve Elliott, former Phoenix bureau chief of the Associated Press; and Leonard Downie Jr., the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at Cronkite who was formerly executive editor of The Washington Post.

“Working with both Steve and Len was really inspiring,” Johnson said. “They are seasoned editors who are always pushing you to ask the tough questions and make sure you have the right data to support your story. They were both incredibly supportive of the story and really pushed me to make it better.”

In addition, Johnson complimented the school’s business journalism specialization, led by Andrew Leckey, the Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism and president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at ASU.

“The business journalism specialization really opened my eyes to the wide spectrum of stories that you can write about business and the economy,” Johnson said.

Annalyn Censky, a 2008 graduate of the Cronkite School and its business journalism specialization, also was honored by SABEW. Censky, now a reporter for CNNMoney.com, was honored in the Professional Online Feature category for her story, “Hunting the Lion Burger Butcher.”

“In writing for CNNMoney, I often draw on the investigative journalism skills Cronkite professors instilled in me just a few years ago,” Censky said. “This award proves that dogged reporting always leads to the best storytelling – no matter how small or wacky the subject matter.”

Leckey said he was proud of both graduates for the business reporting acumen they showed on Arizona stories that had far-reaching impact and appeal.

“We’re delighted Cronkite business journalism student Jennifer Johnson is being recognized nationally for in-depth coverage of a controversial mining issue affecting an Arizona town’s future,” Leckey said. “Like the work of our Cronkite graduate Annalyn Censky, this indicates significant business stories can be uncovered everywhere that talented journalists make the effort to investigate.”