Two Recognized by IRE for ‘Voting Wars’ Investigation
An in-depth report on voting rights and regulations by the Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative, produced by students from Kent State University and 17 other universities, has received a top national award for student investigations.
Investigative Reporters & Editors has named the Carnegie-Knight News21 “Voting Wars” project the recipient of the IRE Award for Student Reporting in the large university category. Headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21 is a multimedia reporting initiative established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Journalism major Jimmy Miller, ’17, and alumna Emily Mills, ’16, from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) at Kent State University, were among the News21 fellows. Altogether, 31 students from 18 universities traveled to 31 states and interviewed hundreds of people for the “Voting Wars” project. The IRE judges said the News21 students “matched or outpaced professional publications to show erosions in voter rights and scant evidence of voter fraud in states that had changed their voting requirements since 2012.”
The News21 investigation follows up and expands on a 2012 project on voting rights, “Who Can Vote?,” which won numerous awards, including the First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and a National Media Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. The project included the most exhaustive study done to date on American election fraud, discovering only 10 cases of in-person voter fraud between 2000 and 2012.
“The IRE Award is a testament to what Cronkite students and other students across the country can achieve,” said Carnegie-Knight News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel, who is a member of IRE. “It also shows the people who support us, like the Knight Foundation, that their generosity is being used to create a new generation of journalists who care about social issues.”
Petchel oversaw the investigative project with Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and the Cronkite School’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism. Since its release, portions of the “Voting Wars” investigation have been featured in more than 80 media outlets, including NBC News, USA Today and The Washington Post. In all, portions of the investigation have been published more than 180 times by media outlets.
Kent State’s Miller and Mills focused their efforts on covering white working class voters from the Midwest – a group that has traditionally supported Democratic candidates, but in the 2016 election, swung the vote in favor of Republican Donald Trump.
“This is a wonderful recognition for the professional-level work the News21 national student reporting team did investigating the nationwide struggle over voting rights and participation leading up to the 2016 national elections,” said Downie, who is an IRE co-founder. “Their original stories and multimedia reached a large audience through dozens of news media publishing partners throughout the country, in addition to the project’s own destination website.”
IRE is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources. The annual IRE Awards have recognized outstanding investigative work since 1979.
The following is a list of the award-winning 2016 Carnegie-Knight News21 fellows and their schools.
- Lily Altavena, Cronkite School
- Alex Amico, Syracuse University
- Alejandra Armstrong, Cronkite School
- Lian Bunny, St. Bonaventure University
- Elizabeth Campbell, Texas Christian University
- Andrew Clark, University of Oklahoma
- Nicole Cobler, University of Texas at Austin
- Courtney Columbus, Cronkite School
- Hillary Davis, Cronkite School
- Sami Edge, University of Oregon
- Max Garland, Elon University
- Taylor Gilmore, University of Tennessee
- Natalie Griffin, University of Maryland
- Marianna Hauglie, Cronkite School
- Sean Holstege, Cronkite School
- Pinar Istek, University of Texas at Austin
- Phillip Jackson, Hampton University
- Roman Knertser, Syracuse University
- Mike Lakusiak, University of British Columbia
- Emily Mahoney, Cronkite School
- Jimmy Miller, Kent State University
- Emily Mills, Kent State University
- Michael Olinger, University of Nevada, Reno
- Pamela Ortega, University of Oklahoma
- Kathryn Peifer, Cronkite School
- Jeffrey Pierre, Florida International University
- Sarah Pitts, University of Oklahoma
- Amber Reece, University of North Texas
- Ali Schmitz, University of Florida
- Rose Velazquez, Louisiana State University
- Erin Vogel-Fox, Cronkite School
News21 fellows are supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations and philanthropists, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Louis A. “Chip” Weil, the Fred W. Smith Chair at the University of Nevada, Reno; The Dallas Morning News, the David Dix Fellowship from Kent State and the Diane Laney Fitzpatrick Fellowship from Kent State.