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Cronkite News Named Best Television Newscast in National SPJ Competition

June 1, 2017

Cronkite News, the nightly newscast produced by Arizona State University students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was named the top newscast in the country by the Society of Professional Journalists.

For the fourth time in seven years and the fifth time since 2005, Cronkite News won in the best newscast category in the SPJ’s prestigious national Mark of Excellence Awards, more than any other school in the nation.

Overall, the Cronkite School finished in the top three, with three first place awards and two finalist honors.

In the past decade, the Cronkite School has the best overall record in the national Mark of Excellence Awards, finishing with the most awards eight times since 2006. In that span, students have won a total of 81 awards.

“We are extremely proud of our talented students in one of the nation’s most-respected journalism contests,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “To consistently lead the field for more than a decade is a testament to the outstanding work by our faculty.”

In addition to best newscast, Cronkite News, the student-produced news division of Arizona PBS, was the national winner in Television Sports Photography for a story on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games by recent Cronkite graduate Ao Gao, a former Olympian who competed in water polo for China in the 2008 and 2012 summer games.

The Carnegie-Knight News21 investigative reporting initiative won Online News Reporting for an extensive look into voting requirements in the lead up to the 2016 presidential elections by recent graduate Emily Mahoney, who now is taking part in an investigative reporting summer internship at the Miami Herald.

The News21 “Voting Wars” investigation, in which 31 students from 18 universities traveled the country to report on voting rights and regulations, also was a national finalist in Online In-Depth Reporting. Recent Cronkite graduate Lily Altavena, who is now pursuing a yearlong environmental reporting fellowship at The Arizona Republic, won the honor with Rose Velazquez of Louisiana State University and Natalie Griffin of the University of Maryland.

The State Press, ASU’s student news outlet, took home a national finalist honor in Breaking News Photography for work by Cronkite student Reilly Kneedler who photographed a Black Lives Matter protest in Tempe, Arizona.

The National Mark of Excellence Award winners are chosen from the category winners in each of SPJ’s 12 regions. In this year’s Region 11 contest, ASU students won 30 awards, winning the division for the 17th straight year.

The SPJ will honor national winners during the Excellence in Journalism conference Sept. 7-9 in Anaheim, California.

The SPJ is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ has nearly 10,000 members.

The complete list of Cronkite’s national SPJ winners:

Best All-Around Television Newscast
National Winner: Tyler Klaus and Xavier Smith, “Cronkite News Election Night,” Cronkite News

Television Sports Photography
National Winner: Ao Gao, “ASU Swimmer Represents Serbia in Upcoming Olympic Games,” Cronkite News

Online News Reporting
National Winner: Emily L. Mahoney, “Voters Will Face a Maze of New Requirements in November,” Carnegie-Knight News21 Voting Wars

Breaking News Photography
National Finalist: Reilly Kneedler, “Mill Avenue Protest,” The State Press

Online In-Depth Reporting
National Finalist: Lily Altavena, Rose Velazquez and Natalie Griffin, “School Takeovers Leave Parents Without a Voice in Education,” Carnegie-Knight News21 Voting Wars