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Cronkite Welcomes 16 Universities for Upcoming Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigation into Juvenile Justice

January 6, 2020
Jordan Elder

News21 student journalist Jordan Elder reporting in the field as part of an investigation into disaster recovery. (Photo by Jordan Laird).

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is preparing to welcome dozens of the nation’s top journalism students from 16 universities across the country as part of the annual Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia initiative.

The assembled team of journalists will conduct an extensive investigation examining youth violence and the juvenile justice system in America. Headquartered at the Cronkite School, News21 was established a decade ago by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate that college journalism students can produce innovative, in-depth multimedia projects on a national scale. The initiative is led by News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and professor of practice at the Cronkite School.

This year, the team of student journalists will focus their efforts on investigating disparities in sentencing and jail time, conditions of juvenile detention facilities and the impact on families, communities and victims. Fellows will travel across the country to report stories, and their work will be published as a multimedia project online and shared with industry partners nationwide.

“We think we will find a country struggling with how to deal with youth violence, both on the preventative end and the punitive end,” Petchel said. “It’s a topic critical to the future of children and teens, not to mention both their families and their victims.”

Following an initial seminar led by Petchel, students move into paid summer fellowships, during which they work out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School and travel across the country to report and produce their stories. The stories and multimedia pieces that are produced are published to a website designed specifically for that year’s investigation.

Portions of previous investigations have been published by major news organizations, including The Washington Post, NBC News, the Center for Public Integrity and USA Today as well as many non-profit news websites.

News21 projects have included investigations into voting rights, post-9/11 veterans, marijuana laws, guns in America and drinking-water safety, among other topics. The projects have won numerous awards, including five EPPY Awards from Editor & Publisher magazine, a host of honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and recognition from the Hearst Journalism Awards Program, considered the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism.

“Hate in America,” the 2018 News21 project, earned a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award, the third straight News21 Murrow.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides core support for the News21 program.

Individual fellows are supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations, news organizations and philanthropists that include The Arizona Republic, The Dallas Morning News, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, International Ireland Funds, Knight Foundation, Murray Endowment, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick, Myrta J. Pulliam and John and Patty Williams.

Cronkite fellows will be named later this semester. The fellows from other universities are:
• Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana: Sorell Grow
• DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana: Byron Mason and Joslyn Fox
• Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland: Gabija Gataveckaite
• Elon University, Elon, North Carolina: Victoria Traxler
• Kent State University, Kent, Ohio: Gretchen Lasso
• Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland: Chloe Johnson
• St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, New York: Jeffrey Uveino and Layne Dowdall
• Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York: Michele Abercrombie and Patrick Linehan
• University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada: Braela Kwan
• University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado: Lindsey Nichols
• University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa: Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw
• University of Illinois-Chicago, Illinois: Nicole Sroka and Brody Ford
• University of Mississippi, Oxford Mississippi: Matthew Hendley
• University of North Texas, Denton, Texas: Cydne Robinson
• University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma: Jana Allen, Abigail Hall, Molly Kruse, James Meyer
• University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee: Gabi Szymanowska

Past investigations and information on the News21 program can be found at news21.com.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Carnegie Corporation of New York: The Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," is one of the oldest, largest and most influential American grant-making foundations. The foundation makes grants to promote international peace and to advance education and knowledge.

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation: The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was founded by Edith Kinney Gaylord, the daughter of Daily Oklahoman Publisher E.K. Gaylord. Ms. Gaylord created the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in 1982 to improve the quality of journalism by supporting research and creative projects that promote excellence and foster high ethical standards in journalism.

Donald W. Reynolds Foundation: The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $115 million nationwide through its journalism program.