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Journalism school’s election coverage shares in national journalism award

Jun 7, 2017

Scripps journalism graduate student Nisha Garud, center, works alongside journalism students to track polling irregularities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana as part of the Electionland national coverage that won a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for non-deadline reporting. / Photo provided by Nerissa Young

Journalism school’s election coverage shares in national journalism award

ATHENS, Ohio (June 7, 2017)—Students and staff at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism who participated in a national effort to monitor polling irregularities during November’s general election are part of a national journalism award for non-deadline reporting.

Electionland, conducted by the nonprofit news organization ProPublica and the Electionland Coalition, received the Sigma Delta Chi award for non-deadline reporting by an independent online news organization, the Society of Professional Journalists announced the last week of May. The awards are for work from 2016.

Scripps Associate Professor Michelle Ferrier coordinated Ohio University’s participation in the first-ever national effort to monitor, report and verify precinct problems reported by voters in real time via social media. Scripps students and staff monitored reports from Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana polls.

“I’m thrilled at the recognition this collaborative project has received and for the critical reporting support we were able to provide at the local level to ensure that every vote counts,” Ferrier said.

ProPublica joined Google News Lab, the USA TODAY NETWORK, Univision News, First Draft, nearly 100 news organizations and 12 other universities to report on the findings, she said.

"The Electionland project was a great way for news organizations to leverage the collective might of college-age students with the power of social media monitoring,” Ferrier said. “Ohio University students attended several tools boot camps and got exposure to emerging social monitoring platforms and data verification tools to track election voting irregularities. With the background of a tumultuous election season, students new to voting and the political environment were able to provide crucial national election monitoring services."

Ferrier, journalism graduate student Nisha Garud, journalism Lecturer Nerissa Young and 20 students took shifts working out of a lab in Scripps Hall for the 16 hours that polls were open.

To see samples of the award-winning work, go to and

Dating to 1932, the awards originally honored six individuals for contributions to journalism. The current program began in 1939 when the Society gave the first Distinguished Service Awards. The honors later became the Sigma Delta Chi Awards. The Society honors the best in journalism from newspapers/wire services, magazines, art/graphics, radio, television, online, newsletters and research.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

-From staff reports