Stanford student journalists honored with James S. Robinson Awards

Student journalists who focused attention on the effect the North Bay fires had on immigrants and on ethics education in computer science have been awarded James S. Robinson Awards for Student Journalists. The prize was established in memory of JAMES ROBINSON, an award-winning journalist who served as editor of Stanford Report before he died in 2004.

For the award, student journalists are asked to submit a story or series of stories that demonstrate superior news news judgement, balanced reporting, a commitment to journalistic values and the ability to creatively engage the reader through clear and compelling writing. The award carries a $2,500 prize and is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Anna-Sofia Lesiv
Anna-Sofia Lesiv

Among undergraduate students, the judges singled out ANNA-SOFIA LESIV’s article, “CS + Ethics,” which was published May 19, 2018, in the Stanford Daily Magazine. In the story, Lesiv recounts the history of computer science at Stanford and asks whether the university has done enough to help students understand the ethics of computer science.

In their explanation, the judges wrote, “This submission covered an important and sensitive national issue that truly matters. It is a timely topic – teaching ethics to computer science students – that is hard to report, yet has profound cultural ramifications. The journalist did a fine job with a challenging subject in an article that was well-researched and well-organized. This is a fine example of journalistic treatment of intellectual history, rendered in a way that is accessible to readers.”

Dylan Freedman
Dylan Freedman

Among graduate students, the judges selected a two-part series by JACKIE BOTTS and DYLAN FREEDMAN, “In the Aftermath of Wildfires, Sonoma County Officials Face Language Barriers, ICE Fears from Immigrants” and “After North Bay Fires, Indigenous Mexican Immigrants Struggle in Silence, Isolation.” The series, published on November 17, 2017, and December 22, 2017, on the Peninsula Press website, combines text, video, photographs and graphics to explain the devastating effects of the Santa Rosa fires on the immigrant community.

In their explanation, the judges wrote, “This submission revealed a previously uncovered but vitally important topic through a compelling combination of text, video, photographs and graphics. This submission represents accountability journalism at its best. The well-researched and reported package of stories illustrate the plight of an underserved community in need of help, but unable to make its needs known. Through engaging storytelling in both English and Spanish, the journalists emphasized the human context of the Santa Rosa fires and found a new angle on an otherwise well-covered event.”

Jackie Botts
Jackie Botts

Judges for the Robinson Awards included FELICITY BARRINGER, writer in residence at Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West; ANN GRIMES, associate director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation; JAMES HAMILTON, the Hearst Professor of Communication and director of the Journalism Program; ELAINE RAY, director of communications and web strategy for Student Affairs; and DONNA LOVELL, assistant vice president for news and content production in University Communications.