Carnegie-Knight News21 food safety probe wins national awards

A major investigation of food safety conducted by the Carnegie-Knight News21 digital news team of journalism students from five universities is being recognized nationally in journalism competitions. Top honors in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence national competition went to students from Arizona State University, University of Maryland, University of Nebraska, Harvard University and University of Missouri for an in-depth multimedia reporting project “How Safe is Your Food?”  Students spent the summer of 2011 working out of newsrooms at ASU and Maryland and traveling the country to report the project, which won first place in online in-depth reporting.

One of the food safety stories – on salmonella dangers in food – was singled out for another first-place SPJ award. “Salmonella Lurks from Farm to Fork,” reported and produced by University of Maryland students Jeffrey Benzing, Esther French, Judah Ari Gross and Robyne McCullough, won first place in online feature reporting.

The winners were selected from more than 4,000 entries submitted by student journalists nationwide. The awards will be presented in September at the SPJ national conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

In addition, an interactive graphic produced by News21 students in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been shortlisted for the first-ever international Data Journalism Awards, sponsored by Google and organized by the Global Editors Network and the European Journalism Centre.

The “Visualizing Our Future Selves” data visualization allows readers to enter basic biographical information about themselves and see how they fit into the aging world of the future, using projections from economists, biostatisticians and demographers. The graphic was developed by students Jason Alcorn, Michael Keller and Emily Liedel.

All of the student work being honored was produced as part of News21, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York to help improve the way journalism is taught in the U.S. and train a new generation of journalists to use new media and communications platform to help reshape and revitalize the news industry.

The Cronkite School at Arizona State University serves as the national headquarters for the initiative, which includes top journalism students from across the country. The program is led by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, and other leading news veterans.

Student works gets wide national distribution through partnerships with The Washington Post,, the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity and other media organizations.

The 2012 national News21 project will bring two dozen top student journalists from 11 universities to Cronkite to conduct an investigation into the impact on American voters of recent extensive changes in election laws and voting procedures in many states.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation’s work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy. For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on project sthat promote informed, engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit