News 21: Reporting on a Changing America


Since 2006, News21 students have taken on significant national projects ranging from religion in America to money in politics.

Voting Wars

Students from 18 universities investigate voter access and participation in a presidential election year.

Join the Team

News21 now welcomes students from all journalism schools. Applications are due Nov. 10.


Student work has appeared in numerous national publications.


News21 stories and projects have been honored in multiple journalism awards contests.

Foundations support News21 fellows:The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York have provided millions of dollars in funding for News21 since the program's inception in 2005. For a history of News21, go to

Other support comes from foundations and philanthropic organizations that support the work of individual fellows. These include the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation and Women & Philanthropy, part of the ASU Foundation.

Big Journalism On Campus (PDF)

Leonard Downie Jr., vice-president-at-large and former editor of The Washington Post, writes about how journalism schools are producing high-level reporting that is making its way into major news outlets.


Gun Wars

National Project: Gun Wars: A News21 investigation of gun rights and regulations in America

Twenty nine journalism students from 16 universities traveled to more than 28 states to examine the political and cultural divide between those who say the right to own and carry guns is guaranteed by the Second Amendment and those who believe firearms should be more regulated. As a result, this project showcases the voices of longtime politicians, shooting victims, militia members, rural sheriffs, hunting enthusiasts, inner-city mothers and advocacy groups on all sides of the debate.


Back Home

National Project: Back Home: The Enduring Battles Facing Post-9/11 Veterans

A News21 investigation documents the failure of government at many levels to fulfill its obligations to veterans returning from the wards in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-six fellows from a dozen universities employ data, text, photo, videos, interactive graphics – and even a news game – to tell their stories.


Voting Rights

National Project: Who Can Vote?

In the most exhaustive study ever of American election fraud, News21 fellows find only 10 cases of in-person voter fraud, despite a national clamor for strict voter ID laws to prevent fraud. Twenty-four students from 11 universities examine the partisan and racially charged debate over voting rights in America.



National Project: How Safe is Your Food?

A team of students investigated food safety in American discovering that foodborne illness strikes tens of millions of Americans each year — killing thousands — because the nation’s food safety system is dangerously fragmented, underfunded, undercut by politics and overwhelmed by a rising tide of food imports. It was reported and produced by 27 students from Arizona State University, Harvard University, University of Maryland and University of Nebraska.



The Ration

This project on food and health was produced by the University of California’s Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism along with students from University of Missouri, Harvard University and City University, London. It covers everything from nutrition and farming to food desserts and the business of food.


Coal a love story

Coal: A Love Story

Students at the University of North Carolina experiment with journalistic storytelling as they explore the nature and power of coal. The project is presented as an interactive film.


A parents quest

A Parent’s Quest

Ten fellows at Northwestern University look at education through the eyes of parents. The project offers parents tools and information they need to make decisions about their children’s education.


El Nuevo Normal

El Nuevo Normal

A team of University of Syracuse and University of Texas at Austin fellows brings data to life with stories about rising Hispanic communities in Allentown, Bethlehem and Reading, Pa. The students relied on data from the 2010 Census to inform their reporting.


Under the Influence

Under the Influence: Money & Power in Politics

This University of Southern California project illustrates the power of campaign cash on public policy at the local and national levels. Fellows partnered with the Sunlight Foundation, using campaign finance databases to unearth what some call the permanent government – un-elected special interests.


Columbia 2011

Brave Old World

Few changes will have as seismic an impact on the United States as the rate at which it’s growing older. Reporting on aging for a second year, Columbia University’s News21 team continued to explore the ways an unprecedented demographic shift will affect us all.



National Transportation  2010

Breakdown: Traveling Dangerously in America

A team of students from 11 News21 schools investigates the unnecessary risks that face Americans on roads, trains, boats and planes. This data-rich project is conducted in association with the Center for Public Integrity.


ASU 2010

Latino America

Arizona State focuses on local, state and federal governments that are grappling with complex immigration issues. Reporting by nine fellows from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and one from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


Berkeley 2010

Behind Bars: California’s Convict Cycle

Berkeley looks at the financial and social costs of incarceration and examines what happens behind prison bars in a state with nearly 170,000 inmates. Reporting by nine fellows from the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, four from City University in London and one from the University of Nebraska College of Journalism.


Columbia 2010

Brave Old World

The demographic projections are startling: In 40 years, the number of Americans past 65 will have doubled. There’s never been such a graying America. What’s it like to grow old? How will communities and the nation adapt? The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism delves into the aging of America, with an extensive report on how older Americans age, how they grapple with the physical and emotional changes that accompany longer lives, and what lies ahead for us all.


Maryland 2010

Chesapeake: Bay on the Brink

Maryland investigates the long-running effort to restore the nation’s largest estuary to health. Reporting by nine fellows from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and one from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.


UNC 2010

Powering a Nation: Quest for Energy in a Changing USA

North Carolina shows how increased demand for energy use is producing cracks in the way America gets power. In ” Quest for Energy in a Changing USA,” interactive graphics and video illustrate possible solutions.


Northwestern 2010

Beyond Borders

Northwestern explores America’s Hispanic population, the nation’s largest, youngest and fastest growing minority group. In 40 years, the Census Bureau says, it will triple in size to 132.8 million and nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic. Beyond the border and its immigration debates, this shift promises opportunities and change – and will make a lasting imprint across identity, education, politics, media and the arts


USC 2010

California in Crisis

Southern California shows how the economic downturn in the nation’s most populous state pressures services, key public institutions and communities. Reporting by nine fellows from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and one from Missouri School of Journalism.


Syracuse 2010

Apart From War

Syracuse documents challenges faced by U.S. military veterans who live off the grid in the forests of Washington state. Reporting by nine fellows from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and one from the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism.



ASU 2009

The Latino Experience Across America

Arizona State documents the changing experiences of Latinos at school, in the military, at church and at work in a series of seven innovative multimedia packages.


Berkeley 2009

Intersections: Bay-area Communities at a Cross Roads

Where stations are planned, how they are built, and who they serve all have a significant impact on the community. Berkeley’s project captures the changing nature of four California communities with interactive tools and a working prototype of a national database for reporters to share hard-to-find data about cities.


Columbia 2009

The Charter School Explosion: Hybrid Schools in Public Education

Charters are reshaping community, reweaving the classroom tapestry and transforming cities like New Orleans. Columbia delves into the charter school movement, using examples from New York, Minnesota, D.C., Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan and ask, are they leading us into unchartered territory? Includes a map showing charter school growth.


Maryland 2009

The New Voters: Identity and U.S. Politics

Just 40 years after rioters took to the streets of Chicago displaying their anger over the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Hussein Obama stood before thousands of supporters in the city’s Grant Park and became the first non-white male to claim victory in a U.S. presidential election. The country had changed. Maryland explores how three fast-growing sets of voters – Latinos, youth and mixed-race – are poised to transform American politics. An innovative tag cloud player enhances individual storytelling.



Young Urban Adults in the New America

Northwestern examines the issues confronting the generation of young adults as they confront their futures in a diverse America. Mexican-Americans, Korean-Americans, Indian-Americans and Americans of every other ethnicity are making their marks on society. Cultural differences often make our decisions difficult to navigate, and many young Americans must tread the careful line between embracing the future and holding on to their roots.


USC 2009

Southwestern Shifts: New Communities & New Realities

Southern California students show how demographic shifts in the Southwest and Mountain West are creating new social dynamics and relations among communities young and old.


Syracuse 2009

The Young & the Wireless: Net Gen Rising

Syracuse produces video portraits of young people and their families that explore how technology is – and is not – empowering youth in 11 demographically diverse communities across America.



Berkeley 2008

The American Dream

In many ways, “The American Dream” is at stake in every presidential election. The loose collection of beliefs about our national values and identity is what the campaigns tap into every four years to capture our votes. But in 2008, the voters’ notions about opportunity, abundance, security, and individual initiative – the very foundations of the American Dream – seemed especially shaken. Were the public opinion surveys and economic data reflecting merely a temporary loss of optimism and confidence or do they point to more fundamental changes or re-definitions of the dream? Berkeley reports.

Columbia 2008

Immigration: New Voters, Old Fears

This country is in the midst of a wave of immigration that is transforming politics. Latinos and Asians are acquiring the kind of political clout that the Irish or Italians once enjoyed. And in older towns and in states affected by this new immigration, resentment is building against the new immigrants. It is directed explicitly against illegal immigration, but often includes legal immigrants as well. Columbia sent reports to six states plus Washington to explore how this wave of immigrants affects American life and politics.


Northwestern 2008

Energy and the Environment

The combined crises of skyrocketing oil prices and global warming gave a sudden rush of support for the first nuclear energy push in 30 years. McCain promises 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030. Obama is more cautious but says nuclear must be part of any energy independence mix. It’s just one of the surprises as presidential politics shifts focus to energy and the environment — issues tackled by the Carnegie-Knight fellows at Northwestern. What’s at stake is America’s way of life that takes for granted affordable and plentiful energy, water and food. What’s at stake is a beautiful blue planet.


USC 2008

The Western Edge

USC News21 team looks at a range of campaign issues. Among them: New Mexican activists struggling to preserve their past; a Texas trend toward Democrats; energy challenges in the Rocky Mountains; disenfranchisement in Arizona; Iraqi refugees; the fight for the Latino vote in New Mexico; the shifting Evangelical vote; mining rights; newly registered Latinos in Colorado; the nuclear renaissance; political challenges over the U.S.-Mexico border; and Nevada as a bellweather state.



Berkeley 2007

God, Sex and Family

Stories about religion are too often framed around conflict and controversy, culture wars and holy wars. Berkeley set off to tell another story – the lived experience of people’s faith. The team produced “God, Sex and Family.” That’s where choices about marriage, dating, the building of community, family and faith play out in private life.


Columbia 2007

The New Americans: Homelands and Diasporas

American religion is undergoing a vast and monumental change, in large measure because of new immigrants coming to these shores. Will Herberg’s 1950s paradigm of Catholic-Protestant-Jew has given way to a festival of rituals, practices, behaviors and beliefs that once seemed like the province of faraway lands. Today, mosques, temples and gurudwaras sacred to Buddhists and Hindus dot the American landscape along with churches and synagogues. What is more, Catholics, Protestants and Jews — absorbing immigrant populations — aren’t what they once were. Columbia reports.

Northwestern 2007

Belief and Public Life

In this nation that has separation of church and state as one of its key precepts, the deep connection between politics and belief is undeniable. Carnegie-Knight News21 Fellows at Northwestern University’s Medill School have looked at how it is expressed and what role religion and belief play in public life, from the campaign trail to the classroom and at many points in between. It has been a remarkable journey that carried the fellows from a creation museum in Kentucky to street corners and workplaces across the nation, where they asked people to explain what role faith plays in their daily life.


USC 2007

Off the Beaten Path: the Search for Spirituality

The ways in which Americans seek spiritual enlightenment are as diverse as America itself. Millions of Americans consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.” USC reports on the various paths explored by these “seekers,” and how those paths intersect with science, commerce, education and culture.



Berkeley 2006

U.S. Military Abroad

The American military is undergoing a profound shift in strategy that is transforming its presence as well as its mission on a global scale. During the summer of 2006, Berkeley reported stories from a range of angles – cultural, economic, political and environmental – regarding the nearly half-million women and men serving the security interests of the United States overseas.


Columbia 2006

Homeland Security

News21 fellows at Columbia spent months following the Department of Homeland Security. They assessed information in federal databases and interviewed dozens of current and former DHS officials, industry executives, academics, advocates, lobbyists and individuals affected by homeland security issues. They’ve investigated the department’s management and the operations of many subsidiary agencies, and scrutinized private-sector companies that are selling homeland security services to the government. What they found was always interesting and frequently unique.


Northwestern 2006

Privacy in an Age of Security

Northwestern’s News21 fellows look at America’s new system of surveillance, developed by the government with the help of private data mining firms after 9/11. One story reports on how the Social Security Administration’s massive databases are being used in homeland security investigations; another uncovers new details about a secretive program in which the Department of Education shared personal information with the FBI. Two immersive interactive presentations explore government data-mining initiatives that might incorporate information about you.


USC 2006

Immigration in Post-9/11 America

The United States is a country of immigrants. Even so, the debate over immigration has never been so intense. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, concerns about securing borders and screening immigrants have dramatically escalated. The in-depth coverage from Southern California looks at how both people and policy have been impacted.


Big Journalism On Campus

Leonard Downie Jr., vice-president-at-large and former editor of The Washington Post, writes about how journalism schools are producing high-level reporting that is making its way into major news outlets.