3 Husker journalists part of RFK Award-winning team

Thursday, May 23, 2024 - 11:30am

Three Husker journalists were part of a Carnegie-Knight News21 project that recently won two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards — including the grand prize, given for only the second time to college journalists.

Naomi Delkamiller, a senior journalism and advertising and public relations major from Omaha; Jenna Ebbers of Cambridge, a 2023 graduate; and Joseph Kual Zakaria of Lincoln, a 2022 graduate, were involved in the 2023 project “America After Roe,” examining the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The court’s ruling eliminated a federal right to abortion and returned regulation of the procedure to the states. The project, which also won in the college category, investigated the ruling’s effects on health care, culture, policy and people.

News21 is a national reporting initiative headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The 2023 News21 fellows comprised 25 top student journalists from nine universities across the country.

“The collaborative nature of the News21 initiative demonstrates the power of teamwork and cross-institutional partnerships in producing high-quality journalism,” said Shari Veil, Jane T. Olson Dean of Nebraska’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “This honor celebrates the individual talents of the students involved and the collective effort that went into creating such a meaningful project; it is a proud moment for all participating universities.”

This is the fifth time that News21 students have won the RFK College Journalism Award and fourth time for Nebraska’s journalism college. The college also took home the grand prize in 2017 for “The Wounds of Whiteclay: Nebraska’s Shameful Legacy,” which delved into the issues and impact of alcohol sales in the small community of Whiteclay.

The News21 fellows conducted extensive background research in spring 2023 before spending 10 weeks reporting and traveling to more than two dozen cities in 14 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Monterrey, Mexico. They produced stories with text, video, audio, photos and graphics.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized not just in the college category, but with the grand prize for this project,” said Pauline Arrillaga, News21 executive editor. “Our student journalists worked tirelessly to report from communities big and small, talking with doctors, patients, politicians and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens to help the public better understand the true impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. These awards are a testament to their dedication and diligence.”

The RFK Journalism Awards were launched in 1969 by the reporters who covered Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. The awards were created to honor a free and fair press and celebrate media professionals whose work explores issues of human rights, social justice and the power of individual action.

The award is the latest recognition for “America After Roe.” The project also received a Webby People’s Voice Award in the student video category and three 2023 EPPY Awards from Editor and Publisher Magazine.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation joined forces in 2005 to launch News21 as a cornerstone of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

The Knight Foundation provides core support for News21. The 2023 fellows were supported by their universities, as well as a variety of foundations, news organizations and philanthropic partners that include the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation, Hearst Foundations, The Arizona Republic/azcentral and Gray Television.

Naomi Delkamiller, Jenna Ebbers, Joseph Zakaria
Naomi Delkamiller, Jenna Ebbers, Joseph Kual Zakaria