October 03, 2012

News 21 voting rights investigation headlines downtown lecture series

Posted: October 03, 2012

A News21 student-led investigation on voting rights in the U.S. will be the subject of the next fall 2012 Humanities Lecture Series at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Kristin Gilger, associate dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and several student journalists who participated in the groundbreaking Carnegie-Knight News21 program, “Who Can Vote?,” will share their experiences and triumphs in a panel discussion set for 6:30 p.m., Oct. 11, at the Nursing and Health Innovation Building Two, 550 N. Third St., Innovation Auditorium, room 110. The lecture, “News21 Voting Rights Project,” will be hosted by ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and is free and open to the public. Parking is also free after 6 p.m. on all public streets and meters.

Gilger, who helped supervise the project, called the work produced by students “remarkable.”

“There has been so much discussion about voter fraud, and the students wanted to find out how much fraud really exists. They traveled to more than 40 cities, 21 states and one U.S. territory, conducted more than 1,000 interviews, requested thousands of public records and reviewed nearly 5,000 documents,” she said. “Their most ambitious effort was to gather, organize and analyze all reported cases of election fraud in the U.S. since 2000, building the most comprehensive database of its kind.”

AJ Vicens, Jack Fitzpatrick, Corbin Carson and Natasha Khan, all ASU journalism students who worked on the project, will join Gilger on the panel. Brandon Quester, a recent Cronkite graduate who served as multimedia editor for the project, also will participate.

The project involved 24 students from 11 universities and began in January 2012 with a video-conferenced seminar taught by Leonard Downie, Jr., former executive editor of “The Washington Post” and Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School. The students heard from multiple experts, conducted interviews and did extensive research on voting rights. They then spent 10 weeks this summer working out of the Cronkite School to report and produce dozens of articles, photos, videos and interactive graphics. The project can be found at votingrights.news21.com.

The panel will discuss some major findings, including voters ID laws, fraud, frequent mistakes and errors and eligibility requirements.

For Vicens, a Cronkite School graduate student, the project was a journalistic benchmark.

“It was an amazing experience that allowed us to do quality journalism,” Vicens said. “The school gave us guidance, time for research and travel, editing and constructive criticism to put together a comprehensive package. The result speaks for itself.”

Major national news organizations, including “The Washington Post”, nbcnews.com, “The Philadelphia Inquirer” and the Center for Public Integrity, have published all or portions of the project. All told, in the first month of publication, the project drew nearly 90,000 page views and more than 10,000 comments on news websites as well as more than 17,000 comments, likes and shares on Facebook and more than 18,000 tweets. The results were cited on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, “The Diane Rehm Show”, “The Rachel Maddow Show” and several other radio and television programs, and the project was the subject of a New American Foundation event on voting rights in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the fall 2012 Humanities Lecture Series, call Mirna Lattouf at (602) 496-0638.

Marshall Terrill, Marshall.Terrill@asu.edu
(602) 496-1005
ASU Office of Public Affairs