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Journalism Students From 19 Universities Investigating Disaster Recovery As Part of Carnegie-Knight News21 Program

June 10, 2019

News21 videographer McKenzie Pavacich sets up to shoot recent tornado damage in Fairborn, Ohio (Photo by Stacy Fernandez/News21)

Thirty-seven top journalism students from 19 universities are at Arizona State University this summer conducting a major investigation into disaster recovery in the U.S. as part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia reporting initiative.

Headquartered at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21 was established 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.

Twenty-three students from journalism programs across the U.S., as well as Canada and Ireland, are joining 14 Cronkite students for the 2019 investigation. They are examining how local and federal governments allocate funds to communities devastated by natural disasters. They’ll spend the summer meeting and interviewing victims, survivors, first responders and others whose communities have been affected, reviewing thousands of pages of government documents and working on multimedia stories, original data, a documentary and a multi-episode podcast.

Last year’s project on "Hate in America" won the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award in the college journalism category. The award honors outstanding reporting on issues that reflect Kennedy’s passions, including human rights, social justice and the power of individual action in the U.S. and around the world.

The students are led by Carnegie-Knight News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

“Just in the last week, tornadoes and flooding have impacted communities in Ohio and Louisiana,” Petchel said. “We will be examining how federal and local governments are handling these recent disasters, as well as how communities affected by past disasters have fared over the years, even decades after the fact.”

Fellows are selected for the highly competitive, paid summer fellowships based on nominations submitted by journalism deans and directors from across the country as well as how they perform in a spring seminar at the Cronkite School, during which they prepare by deeply immersing themselves in the topic.

Students work out of a state-of-the-art Cronkite School newsroom and travel across the country to report and produce their stories. Their work will be posted on the project’s destination website and published by news organizations around the country. Portions of previous investigations have been published by major news organizations that include The Washington Post, NBC News, the Center for Public Integrity and USA Today as well as many non-profit news websites.

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

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, Hearst Foundations, International Ireland Funds, Knight Foundation, Murray Endowment, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick, Myrta J. Pulliam and John and Patty Williams.

The ASU Fellows are: Allie Barton, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Kailey Broussard, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Fellow; Molly Duerig, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Jordan Elder, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Jake Goodrick, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Yael Grauer, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow; Carly Henry, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Anya Magnuson, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Harrison Mantas, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow; Ellen O’Brien, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow; McKenzie Pavacich, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Ariel Salk, Hearst Foundation Fellow; Alex Simon, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Fellow; and Isaac Windes, Don Bolles/Arizona Republic News21 Fellow.

This year’s fellows from other universities are:

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina: Ben Sessoms
  • DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana: Katlyn Hunger and Peter Nicieja (Myrta J. Pulliam Fellows)
  • Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland: Rachel Farrell (Independent News & Media Fellow)
  • Elon University, Elon, North Carolina: Anton Delgado
  • George Washington University, Washington, D.C.: Justine Coleman
  • Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York: Jordan Laird
  • Kent State University, Kent, Ohio: Anna Huntsman (Diane Laney Fitzpatrick Fellow)
  • Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Natalie Anderson
  • St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, New York: Christian Gravius
  • Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York: Stacy Fernández
  • University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada: Dustin Patar
  • University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado: Natalie Wadas
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa: Becca Scadden (Murray Endowment Fellow)
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis: Miguel Octavio and Jacob Steinberg
  • University of North Texas, Denton, Texas: Briana Castanon (Dallas Morning News Fellow)
  • University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma: Sarah Beth Guevara, Drew Hutchinson, Bailey Lewis and Brigette Waltermire (Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellows)
  • University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Priscilla Malavet
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee: Sophie Grosserode (John and Patty Williams Fellow)

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

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. For more information, 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.

Hearst Foundation: The Hearst Foundations are national philanthropic resources for organizations and institutions working in the fields of education, health, culture and social service. Their goal is to ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives. The charitable goals of the Foundations reflect the philanthropic interests of William Randolph Hearst.

Donald W. Reynolds Foundation: The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation was founded as a national philanthropic organization in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. During its 60-plus years of operation, the foundation was a major supporter of journalism and journalism education, with commitments of more than $115 million nationwide.