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Stanford student journalists have been honored with James S. Robinson Awards

by Kate Chelsey

Student journalists who reported on the effects of the Camp Fire in Northern California and on the university’s partnerships with Saudi Arabian institutions have been awarded James S. Robinson Awards for Student Journalists.

The prize was established in memory of JAMES ROBINSON, an award-winning journalist who served as editor of Stanford Report before he died in 2004. Two awards are being made this year – one to graduate student journalists and the other to undergraduate journalists. Both awards carry a $1,500 prize.

For the award, student journalists are asked to submit a story or series of stories that demonstrate superior news judgment, balanced reporting, a commitment to journalistic values and the ability to creatively engage the reader through clear and compelling writing. The judges received 11 submissions for consideration this year.

The winners in the undergraduate journalism category are HANNAH KNOWLES, an English and political science major, and DANIEL YANG, a first-year prospective history major, whose piece “Despite political tensions, Stanford’s Saudi ties continue with little scrutiny” appeared in the Stanford Daily on April 25.

Hannah Knowles and Daniel Yang are among the winners of the James Robinson Award for student journalists.The winners in the graduate journalism category are Department of Communication master’s degree students ASHLYN ROLLINSMELANIE HOGUE and ISABELLA JIBILIAN, who submitted five pieces describing the ramifications of the devastating Camp Fire that struck Paradise, California, in November 2018. The pieces, published in the Peninsula Press, featured articles, photography, 2D videos and 360-degree videos.The judges cited the piece as an example of “top-drawer enterprise reporting” that was “incredibly nuanced” in its consideration of Stanford’s historic ties with Saudi Arabian institutions. They praised the journalists for providing context by summarizing practices at other colleges and universities and for tackling a challenging issue while still producing a story that was fairly reported, cohesively presented and well written.

The pieces are: Remembering and rebuilding the Honey Run Covered Bridge after the Camp FireA couple ventures into a canyon in Paradise to discover if their home survivedWhen Camp Fire smoke clears, where will 2,500 Paradise students go?After undergoing chemo treatment, one Paradise woman had to run for her life during the Camp Fire and As Camp Fire evacuees streamed into Chico, Calif., so did mountains of donations.

The judges praised the series as an excellent example of engaging multimedia storytelling. The work, they said, was cumulatively a “new take and fresh angle on an incident that was widely covered and had attracted a great deal of attention.” The judges especially cited the journalists for their ability to “capture the raw emotions of the first victims” by bringing a “personal perspective that brought the reader into the moment.”

Judges for the Robinson Awards were FELICITY BARRINGER, writer in residence at Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West; ANN GRIMES, associate director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation; JAMES HAMILTON, the Hearst Professor of Communication and director of the Journalism Program; KATE CHESLEY, editor of Stanford Report; and ALEX KEKAUOHA, editor of the Roundabout.


Originally published on Stanford News.