Anchan, Johnson picked for Carnegie-Knight News21 program

Released on 06/11/2013, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., June 11th, 2013 —
Asha Anchan
Asha Anchan
Riley Johnson
Riley Johnson

            Asha Anchan and Riley Johnson of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications will join other top journalism students from 12 universities around the country on a national investigative reporting project on post-9/11 veterans.

            The project is part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 in-depth journalism program headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. News21 fellows produce in-depth news coverage on critical issues facing the nation, using innovative digital methods to distribute the content on multiple platforms. Previous projects have included investigations into voting rights, food safety and transportation safety in America.

            Anchan, who graduated in May, was selected for two reporting fellowships -- the inaugural News Fellows program that is sponsored by the National Newspaper Association Foundation in Washington, D.C., this spring and the Omaha World-Herald Fellowship. The Omaha native has participated in several of the college's series of in-depth reporting and documentary projects -- a photojournalism project called "Kyrgyzstan: After the Revolt," and was a member of the documentation team for the 2010 USA Special Olympics National Games in Lincoln. Anchan's reporting internships include positions with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Norfolk Daily News. She has worked at UNL's student newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan, as a feature writer, columnist and restaurant reviewer.

            Johnson participated in the Omaha World-Herald real world program and was named an Omaha-World-Herald fellow this spring. He has worked at the Daily Nebraskan -- first as a general assignment reporter -- then as the managing editor this past year. He covered the city desk for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in summer 2012. A journalism and political science major, the Ellsworth, Wis., native will graduate in 2014.

            News21 is taught by Leonard Downie Jr., in-person and via teleconference in a semester-long seminar course every spring. Downie is a former executive editor of the Washington Post and Cronkite's Weil Family Professor of Journalism. Anchan and Riley, who are part of the spring class that consists of almost three dozen students, are conducting research and hearing from numerous veterans' advocacy groups, veteran service experts and government officials.

            Anchan and Johnson will go on to a paid summer reporting fellowship, during which they will work out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School and travel across the country to report and produce their stories. The fellows work under the direction of News21 executive editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former senior editor for investigations and enterprise at the Houston Chronicle.

            "As veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq return home for good, New21's national investigative project will examine their world after war -- and whether American politicians, bureaucrats and service providers have kept their promise to help military men and women recover and adjust to life at home," Petchel said. "And we will tell that story with words, photos, video, data and other digital innovations so that we are sure their voices are heard."

            Downie said the topic "could not be more timely." Veterans face huge challenges in health, education, employment, housing and access to benefits, he said. In addition, this cohort of veterans has the largest contingent of women in American history -- women who face unique challenges as they re-enter civilian life.

            The project, Downie said, "should significantly inform an emerging national dialogue about whether government, especially the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the rest of American society are doing enough to effectively assist these young people who have voluntarily sacrificed to serve their country during the past decade. The project also gives the student journalists the opportunity to produce widely circulated, professional-level multimedia journalism that enhances their career opportunities."

            Last year's News21 project on voting rights received national attention for revealing only 10 documented cases voter impersonation in the U.S. since 2000. The project received an EPPY Award for best university investigative or documentary report from Editor & Publisher magazine and won several Society of Professional Journalists awards.

            News21 is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and also is supported by the Carnegie Corp., the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and Women & Philanthropy, part of ASU's Foundation for a New American University. Funding for UNL students to participate in the News21 program is provided by the Peter Kiewit Foundation.

Writer: Marilyn Hahn

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