Stanford student journalists win James Robinson awards


Ashley Westhem and Kylie Jue (Photo by L. A. Cicero)
Ashley Westhem and Kylie Jue (Photo by L. A. Cicero)


KYLIE JUE started working for The Stanford Daily after her junior year in high school. The Cupertino native enjoyed the experience so much that she returned as an intern the summer before she officially became a Stanford student. Now a sophomore with plans to major in CS+English, Jue is a veteran at Stanford’s student paper of record. She’s served as a staff writer and news desk editor and is currently the desk editor for the university affairs beat.

ASHLEY WESTHEM is a junior majoring in American studies with a concentration in American government. A native of Lake Tahoe, Calif., Westhem has been writing primarily for the paper’s sports section since her freshman year. She also has held positions of sports desk editor, and her current post is managing editor of sports. In addition, Westhem is the voice of women’s basketball on Stanford’s student radio station KZSU.

Jue and Westhem are the first- and second-place winners of the 2014 James S. Robinson Award for Student Journalists. The award was established in honor of the late JAMES ROBINSON, an award-winning journalist who served as editor of Stanford Report.

For the award, student journalists are asked to submit a story or series of stories published in the Daily that demonstrate engaging writing as well as superior news judgment and balanced reporting.

Jue’s submission explored the issue of plagiarism in the Department of Computer Science.

“The initial pitch suggested that plagiarism in computer science was on the rise and that it was becoming an increasing problem,” recalled Jue, whose story was published in the Daily last June. “However, I discovered that the reasons for the increasing number of CS honor code violations were not that simple.  I explained to sources that I wanted to understand the honor code system and the motives behind plagiarism rather than exposing a problem in the field.  As a result, I found that both professors and students were extremely responsive, and many were willing to tell their stories. I learned about the importance of working on a story without having a preconceived angle.”

Jue is not sure what her plans will be beyond Stanford. She’d like to combine her interests in computer science and journalism.

MICHAEL BERNSTEIN, an assistant professor of computer science, said Jue’s timing and talents bode well.

“Kylie is at the vanguard of a new breed of students who are crossing computer science with journalism and the written word. She worked with me last summer on a platform to aid writers in creating simpler, more impactful content. Now she’s working with our group that’s thinking about how we might bring together entire crowds of people on the Internet to write mid- to long-form content. She’s creative and incredibly dedicated. Computational journalism has risen as an area of major interest, and Kylie is well-positioned to take charge.”

Westhem’s submission was a three-part series that explored the challenges of being a student athlete at Stanford.

Westhem said that Stanford is well known for its Nobel Prize winners or students involved in start-ups and tech companies as undergrads. “But many don’t realize that the same amount of dedication, missteps and intense passion can be found among our student athletes  – on and off the field or court. This series opened my eyes to this and made me want to share the stories of student-athletes so that they may be appreciated for more than just jocks on campus.”

JOHN CANTALUPI, an assistant athletics director, described Westhem as professional, conscientious and a great communicator and manager.

“Her best positive trait is her personality – being able to form relationships and friendships with girls on the women’s basketball team,” while maintaining her role as an impartial journalist.

Recalling his own work on his college student newspaper, Cantalupi added that he is impressed with Westhem’s ability to manage a staff of reporters as sports editor. “Her coordination with her staff has been very good.”

Westhem is considering following in the footsteps of Cantalupi and others in the Athletics Department’s media office and going into sports administration.

“The biggest thing in this job comes down to relationships,” Cantalupi said. Without a doubt [Westhem] has that.”

Robinson, a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, joined the Stanford News Service in 1998 following a distinguished career in daily journalism 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 died in Jan. 13, 2004 of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He and his family established the award prior to his death.

The 2014 award committee included LISA LAPIN, associate vice president for public affairs and director of university communications; BRAD HAYWARD, senior director, strategic communications; JAY HAMILTON, professor of communication; and ELAINE RAY, director of campus communications and editor of Stanford Report.

The first prize comes with a $3,000 award and the second prize comes with an award of $2,000.