Kennesaw State student project among three collegiate finalists for international online journalism award

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Five students produced story of a local mother’s struggle to recover from meth addiction  

KENNESAW, Ga.  (August 26, 2014) — A multimedia story of a mother’s struggles to recover from methamphetamine addiction by a team of five Kennesaw State University student journalists is among the top three collegiate finalists in the 2014 Online Journalism Award competition.

The team’s story package placed in one of only two categories for student journalists — Student Projects, Large — in the competition, which honors excellence in data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, public service and technical innovation. The competition is sponsored by the Online News Association, the world’s largest association of online journalists. Winners in each of 33 award categories will be announced Sept. 27.

The students’ package, titled “Battling Meth: A Mother’s Road to Recovery,” is an in-depth profile documenting Georgia native Lindsay Curio’s struggles with motherhood and meth addiction. The story integrates text, video, audio and intimate photography. It was produced during the fall 2013 semester and distributed nationally in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) digital magazine, published by the Center for Sustainable Journalism (CSJ) at Kennesaw State University.

The student journalists — Shaddi Abusaid, Daniela Duron, Elizabeth Keener, Roger Newton and Lindsay Walker — produced the package while they were seniors in a capstone course in their Journalism and Citizen Media program in the Department of Communication. They all have since graduated with bachelor’s degrees in communication. 

"We are so excited that these students’ multimedia package was recognized as one of three finalists in this prestigious, international competition,” said Barbara Gainey, chair of Kennesaw State’s Department of Communication. “It is especially gratifying that the students’ project was honored along with the very best content produced online by professional journalists.”

The package tells of Curio’s first drug usage, a rape she experienced, the loss of her first two children, her sister’s own struggles with meth, her recovery and the anguish her parents felt, while never giving up on her. The students spent their time in the field and in Curio’s own environment and produced a package designed for the text to move to the video and photographs and then back to the text seamlessly.

“In every sense, this is student journalism at its best,” said Leonard Witt, a distinguished professor and executive director of the Center for Sustainable Journalism, who taught the capstone class. “This package reflects the strong foundational education in journalism and multimedia that our students have received. We’re all very proud of their accomplishment.”

Previous collegiate competition finalists have represented some of the nation’s leading journalism programs at such institutions as the University of California – Berkley Graduate School of Journalism, Boston University, University of Miami and University of North Carolina. The 2014 finalists in the student project-large category — produced with more than three students — also include the NYCity News Service at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and News21 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Department Chair Gainey added: “Journalism and Citizen Media is the newest undergraduate program within the Department of Communication, and we anticipate that this is just the first of many accolades that our student journalists will receive."

View more about the competition and see the finalists in all the categories here:


Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, includingdoctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.