Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Pulitzer Prize-winning editor, record number of colleges join News21’s all-star student journalism investigative team

Dec. 7, 2012, 8:20 a.m., Posted by Katrina Bruno

Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Jacquee Petchel will work with a new all-star team of students at Arizona State University to produce next year’s investigative reporting for News21, the student journalism demonstration project that drew more than 7 million page views and 18,000 comments on this year’s Voter Fraud package.

Petchel brings to her newly announced role as executive editor more than 30 years of experience. She was twice part of Pulitzer-winning Miami Herald staff awards, one for coverage of the brief exodus of Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez and a second for “What Went Wrong,” a report probing why Hurricane Andrew caused such extensive damage in Miami in 1992.

She will be joined in 2013 by 18 students from a record-breaking 13 colleges across the nation. Congratulations to 2013’s News21 Fellows:

  • Central Michigan - Catey Traylor
  • Florida International University - Anthony Cave
  • Harvard University - Jonathan Hillman
  • Kent State - Daniel Moore
  • University of Missouri – Steven Rich
  • University of Nebraska - Asha Anchan, Riley Johnson
  • University of Oklahoma - Bonnie Camp, Chase Cook, Kelsey Hightower
  • University of Florida - Meg Wagner, Hannah Winston
  • University of Maryland - Greg Kohn, Jessica Wilde
  • University of Miami - Julian Glover
  • University of Minnesota - Jeff Hargarten
  • University of Oregon - Colton Totland
  • University of Texas, Austin - Forrest Burnson

In addition, Arizona State will contribute seven students to the project, to be announced by summer.

This year, two dozen students from 11 universities produced more than 20 comprehensive reports, interactive databases, video profiles, photo galleries, and an e-book chronicling the findings. "Who Can Vote?" took student journalists across the country to more than 40 cities, 21 states and one U.S. territory, making it the widest reaching university-produced journalism project in history.

Looking for voter fraud, the students examined 5,000 documents and did scores of interviews. The result: Since 2000, though 146 million American’s were registered to vote, only 2,068 cases of fraud were alleged, and there were no confirmed cases of voter impersonation fraud. Yet dozens of states had passed voter I.D. laws to prevent voter impersonation. Why? Democrats argued that such laws were designed to keep people of color, students, the elderly and others from voting.

After the report was released in early August 2012, interest in the topic surged. The investigation was awarded an EPPY in 2012 for best college/university investigative or documentary report from Editor & Publisher Magazine.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation fund News21 as part of the Carnegie Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education. The project is designed to show that top students, with the right professional instruction, can produce important investigations that are both innovative and used by major media. This year the project had more than two dozen major media partners, including MSNBC, the Washington Post and National Public Radio.

Since 2006, Knight Foundation has awarded over $10 million to the project. News21 is funded permanently through an endowment, a university match and fees from participating schools.

Recent Florida International University graduate Katrina Bruno is a contract researcher and writer at Knight Foundation.