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November 14, 2007

Hohmann, Novinson win student journalism award for Daily reporting

James Hohmann, a junior majoring in history, and Daniel Novinson, a senior pre-med student, have been named winners of the 2007 James S. Robinson Award for Student Journalists at Stanford University.

Each student will receive $1,000 for winning the award, which was established in memory of James Robinson, an award-winning journalist and former editor of Stanford Report.

Hohmann, 20, was recognized for stories that placed a local issue—contract negotiations between Stanford and the Service Employees International Union—in a national context. The four-part series explored the weakening power of unions in the private sector, the changing regulatory climate and the union battle for healthcare benefits and pensions.

"I learned that thorough reporting wasn't easy—negotiations on complicated labor issues occupied the time of high-priced employment lawyers, and nothing was clear-cut," Hohmann wrote in his application. "Every piece of information had to be taken with a grain of salt. Sources had agendas and their own livelihoods at stake, and I found complexities at every interface."

Novinson, 21, was recognized for breaking the story about Azia Kim, an 18-year-old high school graduate from Orange County who squatted in two different Stanford dormitories for most of the 2006-07 school year before the university uncovered her ruse. The story made the front pages of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News, and reporters from CNN and Fox News interviewed Novinson about the story.

"Ninety-five percent of the time I hear a tip it leads nowhere, and colleagues at professional papers tell me they face similar odds," Novinson wrote in his application. "I had a hunch this story might play out differently. The next few days tested—and taught—me more than I thought possible in such short time. I put aside my classes and my girlfriend, and spent 11 hours on a Wednesday talking to more than 20 sources and triple-checking every fact in the story. Sure, I was exhausted, but running from dorm to dorm, I felt a sense of excitement that I rarely do from my schoolwork."

The James S. Robinson Award, which was established in 2005, recognizes reporters whose stories demonstrate superior news judgment, balanced reporting and the ability to creatively engage the reader through clear and compelling writing.

"Both Hohmann and Novinson are truly gifted reporters and writers," said Elaine Ray, director of the Stanford News Service and a member of the award selection committee. "James would have cheered them on."

The committee also included Alan Acosta, director of University Communications, and John Markoff, a senior writer for the New York Times and a visiting lecturer in the Department of Communication.

"The Hohmann stories were great examples of solid beat reporting that made an effort to break through accepted stereotypes," Markoff said in an e-mail message. "Novinson's story on the student imposter was everything a scoop should be and it had national impact."

Robinson joined the Stanford News Service in 1998 following a distinguished career at daily newspapers that included reporting jobs at The Republican (Springfield, Mass.), Hartford Courant, Houston Chronicle and Agence France-Presse.

Under Robinson's editorship, Stanford Report won a Gold Medal for Excellence from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 2002. Robinson, a native of Newton, Mass., died in January 2004 of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.



Kathleen J. Sullivan, News Service: (650) 724-5708,


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