Cronkite Wins Big at First Foray into LA Press Club Contest

Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020


Cronkite students took home six awards in both the professional and student categories at the annual Southern California Journalism Awards recently in Los Angeles.

The Cronkite School has a bureau in Santa Monica, California, where broadcast and digital students cover news and sports stories across one of the country’s biggest media markets. This was the first time Cronkite students entered the contest, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Press Club.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to see Cronkite News journalists recognized for their hard work in Los Angeles. These awards reflect work completed during my first semester as the L.A. Bureau Chief for Cronkite. Our dedication to developing great stories here is apparent in these wins,” said Shaya Tayefe Mohajer, bureau chief of Cronkite News Los Angeles.

In the professional category, Grayson Schmidt’s story about a teen struggling to help her father with early onset Alzheimer’s took first place while beating out team-reported features from heavy-hitters such as NBC News, Nightline and the Hollywood Reporter, Mohajer said.

Schmidt’s student work also bested the efforts of his peers at Cal State Northridge and the University of Southern California, two of the top journalism programs in California, she said. He earned another first-place finish for his excellent feature about a protest at Alcatraz, held by Native Americans who were commemorating their occupation 50 years ago. Patty Talahongva, executive producer of Indian Country Today, based at the Cronkite School, advised Schmidt on this story.

“Grayson’s story is an excellent example of how we can amplify the important and historic moments of Native American history in the West for Arizona PBS audiences, while working with the authoritative journalists at Indian Country Today to produce quality journalism,” she said. “We love to see our reporters win awards, but it’s also about helping them find and hone their talents.”

In addition to Schmidt’s first-place wins, Cronkite broadcast/digital sports reporters won awards in the professional category. Evan Desai and Scott Rowe’s story about St. John Bosco took second place for Sports Feature.

Here is the full list of winners:

Professional Category – Online

News Feature – General News

Winner: Grayson Schmidt, Cronkite News at Arizona State University, “Role Reversal: Teen Caring for Father with Alzheimer’s Shares Her Experience.”

Sports News or Feature

2nd Place: Evan Desai and Scott Rowe, Cronkite News, “St. John Bosco: NCAA ‘Football Factory’ Is Based on Brotherhood.”

Student Categories

Best Feature Writing – Print or Online, Sports/Arts

Winner: Jack Harris, Cronkite student interning at Los Angeles Times, “At Los Alamitos’ Opening Day of Horse Racing, a Feeling of ‘Less Stress’.”

Best Feature Writing – Print or Online, Sociopolitical Feature

Winner: Grayson Schmidt, Cronkite News, “Return to ‘the Rock’: Original Alcatraz Occupier Retraces Steps during 50th Anniversary.”

Best Personality Profile, Public Personalities — Any platform

2nd Place: Jack Harris, Cronkite student interning at the Los Angeles Times, “Young, Small, but Mighty: Skateboarder Sky Brown Shreds Path Toward Olympics.”

In addition, Mohajer won an award for a Columbia Journalism Review story, “Unearthing the Black Newspaper that Sold the California Dream to Freed Slaves,” that won in the Minority/Immigration reporting category.

The Press Club entries are judged by journalists from outside the Los Angeles area. To view the 62nd Southern California Journalism Awards presentation, held on Aug. 29, click here.