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Cronkite Student Wins New York Times Journalism Contest

March 8, 2019
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Cronkite student Mia Armstrong won a national contest to accompany New York Times columnist Nick Kristof on a summer reporting trip to Guatemala, Haiti or American Indian reservations.

An Arizona State University student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has won a national contest to accompany New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof on a reporting trip this year.

Mia Armstrong, a Cronkite student who is double majoring in global studies with the School of Politics and Global Studies at ASU, was selected for an essay critiquing the media’s coverage of the criminal justice system. In her essay, she said media reports of people who are incarcerated often lack a human element.

Established in 2006, the “Win a Trip with Nick Kristof” contest encourages university students to submit an essay on one of three topics: disagree with a column by Kristof and explain why; disagree with the Times’ coverage of a topic and explain why; or choose an issue that is poorly covered and explain how it could be covered better.

Armstrong, who will graduate in May, has worked in Arizona prisons for the past two years teaching a course on writing and journalism. She said the experience gave her insight into the criminal justice system and the people who are part of it.

Armstrong, who has long admired Kristof’s columns, said the trip will be a great opportunity to learn from a journalist who is covering the kinds of issues that are important to her.

“I have always been interested in global issues,” she said. “I had lived in Flagstaff my entire life, so I was eager to learn more about the world and other places. That’s why I decided to pursue global studies at ASU. My sophomore year, I added journalism because I found that storytelling is an important component. With an academic background in international relations, journalism allowed me to tell stories and connect with people.”

As part of her trip with Kristof, Armstrong will write pieces for The New York Times website. She will be reporting from Guatemala, Haiti or American Indian reservations.

In addition to her work with Arizona inmates, Armstrong is a bilingual journalist for Cronkite Noticias, an immersive professional experience in which Cronkite students cover Latino communities and issues. She previously interned at Future Tense, a partnership between Slate Magazine, New America and ASU that explores emerging technologies.

“We are extremely proud of Mia,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “This achievement is a testament to her hard work at the Cronkite School and her passion for international journalism. We wish her the best on her trip, and we look forward to her reporting.”

Following the trip, Armstrong said she hopes to continue her journalism career reporting on issues related to borders and immigration.

“The Cronkite School has challenged me every step of the way — not just as a student, but also as a journalist,” she said. “The rigor and focus on doing real work from day one (at the Cronkite School) has allowed me to build on my skills and passion for storytelling.”

While at The New York Times, Kristof has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his coverage of Tiananmen Square and genocide in Darfur. His reporting ranges from human rights and women’s rights to health and global affairs. He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have written several books together, most recently “A Path Appears” about how to make a difference. His next book is expected to be released this fall.

The Center for Global Development assisted Kristof in selecting a winner for the contest. The CGD is an organization that works to reduce global poverty and improve lives through innovative economic research that drives better policy and practice by the world’s top decision makers.