Andrew Capps (JEM and PLSC ’18)is one of 26 students selected from journalism programs across the U.S., Canada, and Ireland to participate in the 2018 Carnegie-Knight News21 program. The News21 program was established by the Carnegie Corporation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate the potential of journalism students to conduct national investigations on major topics. This year’s topic is hate crimes in America.
The News21 fellows began their work with a seminar taught via video conferencing by former executive editor of The Washington Post, Leonard Downie Jr. and Pulizter Prize-winning journalist and News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel. With the completion of the spring semester, the fellows will be heading to Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21’s headquarters, to work out of the school’s newsroom and travel across the country to pursue their stories throughout the summer.
Capps focus is on the issues involving hate crimes in Tennessee and Kentucky. “It’s been really interesting to see how different counties report hate crimes, and how different the laws are regarding who is protected when hate crimes occur,” Capps said.
This year marks the fifth year in a row that the School of Journalism and Electronic Media has sent a competitively selected student to News21. While the Knight Foundation provides core support for the program, participating universities must provide additional financial support if one of their students is selected.
A generous donation, from John Williams (BS/JEM ’71 and chair of the CCI Board of Visitors) and his wife Patty (UT SIS Library Endorsement ’86), has made it possible for JEM to send one of its top journalism students to News21. John is the current CEO of the Regional Eye Center in Kingsport, Tennessee, and Patty, now retired, spent her career as a dedicated librarian at Abraham Lincoln Elementary and George Washington Elementary in Kingsport and at public elementary schools in Sevierville and Knoxville.
“Patty and I are both alumni of the college,” Williams said. “She is now retired as a public school librarian, and I have not been a working journalist for many, many years. But I still use my journalism skills every single day in my work.”
Looking for a way to give back to the college, they found the Carnegie-Knight News21 program through the college’s development office.
“We were looking at ways to get involved as a donor with the college, and we were given some ideas that were based on our interest area,” he said. “One of them was very much broadcast related, which dealt with my past. One was more academic, which dealt with my wife’s past. And then we were presented with this one, which had the journalism element as well as the academic support.”
School of Journalism and Electronic Media Director Catherine Luther expressed heartfelt gratitude for John and Patty’s support and emphasized the invaluable experience News21 has given to students. “The investigative projects that past recipients have worked on have been recognized by several leading journalism organizations in their award contests. All past recipients have secured excellent positions as journalists upon graduation and I’m quite sure News21 played a role in their success in doing so.”