June 12, 2006
Freshman wins James Robinson Award for journalists
By Ray Delgado
Amit Arora, a freshman who plans to major in history and mathematics, has been named the winner of the 2006 James S. Robinson Award for Student Journalists at Stanford.
The $1,000 annual prize was established in memory of Robinson, the Stanford Report editor who died Jan. 13, 2004, of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Arora, 19, won the award for a series of five articles he wrote for the Stanford Daily on the 2005 California Special Elections. The first three articles examined the arguments for and against the various ballot initiatives, which proposed, among other things, new rules for notifying the parents or guardians of minors planning to have an abortion, increasing the probationary period for public school teachers and redrawing voting districts. (Voters rejected all the propositions.) The fourth article reported the election results and the fifth examined the ramifications of the failed initiatives for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"The committee was impressed by the breadth and depth of issues Arora tackled in his series on California initiatives, which often confuse voters," said Ann Grimes, the Lokey Visiting Professor in the Department of Communication, who is a member of the committee with Elaine Ray, director of the Stanford News Service, and Alan Acosta, director of university communications. "We also liked that he brought the issues 'home' through campus interviews and got a wide range of reactions to controversial proposals," Grimes added.
Arora said he was honored to win an award for journalism and would continue to pursue writing for the Stanford Daily even though he accepted a desk editor position there next year.
"Though these articles addressed a number of topics, each raised public awareness of critical issues and called for institutional accountability," Arora wrote in his application. "I believe that it is of utmost importance that my generation learns to value these principles, and I hope to continue on this track in my future work at the Daily."
Arora said he plans to pursue a career in civil rights law and eventually wants to become a history professor. "We'll see what works out," Arora said. "I've always been motivated by this sense of responsibility that journalists have. I'll always continue to write news stories and try and preserve accountability."
A native of Newton, Mass., Robinson was associate director for print at the News Service and editor of Stanford Report, which, under his direction, won a 2002 gold medal from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He came to Stanford in 1998 following a distinguished career at daily newspapers that included reporting jobs at the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, Hartford Courant, Houston Chronicle and Agence France-Presse.