Pauline Arrillaga

Veteran journalist Pauline Arrillaga to lead Carnegie-Knight News21 program

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022


Pauline Arrillaga, an award-winning writer, editor and professor who led the RWJF Southwest Health Reporting Initiative at the Cronkite School, will take over as executive editor of the award-winning Carnegie-Knight News21 program.

News21 is a donor-funded national reporting initiative headquartered at the Cronkite School, which brings top journalism students from across the country to report and produce in-depth, multimedia projects for major media outlets, including The Washington Post, NBC News and USA Today. The Knight Foundation provides core support for the program.

Students selected for News21 study a topic during a spring seminar, followed by a 10-week reporting fellowship during the summer. Students work out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School and travel the U.S. – and sometimes abroad– to report and produce their projects. 

News21 student projects have focused on topics such as the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, state and federal responses to natural disasters, and the juvenile justice system in America.

The projects have won numerous awards, including the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Best of the West contest, Online Journalism Awards, Editor & Publisher magazine’s national EPPY Award and the Arizona Press Club award.

“Pauline’s experience as a top enterprise journalist and editor, along with the work she’s done leading the RWJF Southwest Health Reporting Initiative, makes her the perfect choice to serve as executive editor of News21. She’ll provide strong leadership for the students working on projects in the program,” said Cronkite School Dean Dr. Battinto L. Batts Jr.

Arrillaga joined the Cronkite School in 2019 as professor of practice to launch and direct the RWJF Southwest Health Reporting Initiative, a program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to increase reporting of health disparities in underserved communities and communities of color. 

With Arrillaga’s guidance, the student journalists working for the RWJF Southwest Health Reporting Initiative produced text, broadcast, audio and digital video stories, including dozens in Spanish, that were picked up by media outlets such as  The Associated Press, PBS NewsHour, Univision, the Salt Lake Tribune, Indian Country Today, the San Antonio Express-News, The Washington Times, NPR member station KJZZ, and others in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala. 

The students have won awards from the intercollegiate Hearst competition, the Broadcast Educators Association, the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Education Writers Association.

Prior to arriving at the Cronkite School, Arrillaga spent 27 years at The Associated Press – most recently as the head of U.S. enterprise journalism. 

In that role, Arrillaga led a team of top writers, photographers and video journalists – and worked with other journalists in all 50 states – to produce enterprise projects in all formats.

She helped shape, drive and edit AP’s work on former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, which was honored as a Pulitzer Prize finalist in national reporting and with the RFK Journalism Award and John Seigenthaler Prize for Courage in Reporting. She also oversaw the AP’s series on missing and murdered Native American women, which won the Dori J. Maynard Award for Justice in Journalism, the Les Payne Award for Coverage on Communities of Color, and other honors. 

Before making the jump into editing, Arrillaga worked for 10 years in the coveted role of AP National Writer and used explanatory writing, investigative reporting and narrative storytelling to explore topics such as immigration and social justice. Her stories have captured numerous accolades, including a 2005 Livingston Award for “Doors to Death,” an investigative-narrative series examining human smuggling across the border. 

Arrillaga is known as a mentor and coach to journalists across the globe and a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She has long focused on issues affecting underserved communities. Arrillaga is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and serves on its Investigative and Data Journalism Task Force. 

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
As social investors, Knight Foundation supports democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Learn more at and follow @knightfdn on social media. 

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.