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Recent Cronkite Graduate Wins Top Student Award in Society of Environmental Journalists' Competition

August 9, 2019
Arizona mine

Cronkite alumnus Chris McCrory won first place in the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual competition for his investigation into Arizona’s abandoned mines. (Photo by Nicole Neri/Cronkite News)

A recent graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication took home the top student award from the world’s largest environmental journalism competition.

The Society of Environmental Journalists awarded Chris McCrory, a 2018 Cronkite graduate, with its Ray Reece Student Award. This is SEJ’s first year recognizing published or broadcast journalism of college graduate, undergraduate and high school students.

McCrory wrote an investigative two-part series on the dangers of Arizona’s abandoned mines and the steps state officials are taking to prevent further injuries and deaths. The articles were published by Cronkite News, a news division of Arizona PBS and the world’s largest media organization operated by a journalism school.

“His focus on the state’s inability to afford to secure the mines provides public service to residents and visitors and a call-to-action to legislators, and is a great example of determined, independent reporting,” SEJ judges wrote.

Earlier this year, McCrory’s work on Arizona’s 100,000 abandoned mines received national recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards. He was also a finalist in the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards.

Three Cronkite students also received honorable mentions during this year’s SEJ competition. Christopher Cadeau, a 2018 Cronkite graduate, and Lillian Donahue, a 2019 Cronkite graduate, received recognition for their joint investigation on the effects of uranium mining on the Colorado River on members of the Havasupai Tribe.

Jenna Miller, who received her master’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Cronkite in 2017, was honored for her reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

“These students are already doing amazing journalism,” said Cronkite Senior Associate Dean Kristin Gilger. “We can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Awards will be presented during SEJ’s 29th annual conference in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Oct. 12. This year the contest received 478 entries, an all-time high for the competition.

List of Cronkite student award projects and honorable mentions:

1st: Chris McCrory
In a Hole: Arizona Officials Lack Funds to Find, Secure at least 100,000 Abandoned Mines
Arizona’s Two Abandoned Mine Inspectors Face Daunting Task: ‘We’re all by Ourselves

Honorable mention: Lillian Donahue & Christopher Cadeau
Hands, Heart and Feet: Havasupai Children Write Letters Urging Trump to Ban Canyon Mining

Honorable mention: Jenna Miller
Feeding Change: Puerto Rico’s Push for Food Independence Intertwined with Debate over Statehood