About the 2011 Food Safety Project

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“How Safe is Your Food?” is a project of News21, a program of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to foster in-depth, interactive and innovative investigative journalism at journalism schools across the country. It is headquartered at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Twenty-seven student journalists at ASU and the universities of Maryland, Missouri and Nebraska began this year’s reporting project with a teleconferenced spring semester seminar in which they researched food safety issues and interviewed experts in the field. Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and the Cronkite School’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism, led the seminar from the Cronkite School and coordinated the program.

Students were then selected for a summer fellowship during which they spent 10 weeks reporting and producing their projects, working out of newsrooms at Maryland and ASU. Sharon Rosenhause, former managing editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, managed the newsroom in Arizona, while the Maryland newsroom was led by Deborah Nelson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and senior lecturer at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and fellow faculty members Sandy Banisky, former deputy managing editor at The Baltimore Sun, and Sean Mussenden, a director of the college’s Capital News Service.

Longtime digital journalist Jody Brannon, national director of News21, was in charge of multimedia and production, and Cronkite Associate Dean Kristin Gilger provided project oversight.

Key Findings

In their research, the students’ reporting determined:
• Foodborne illnesses sicken one person in six — 48 million — in the U.S. each year. Of those, 128,000 require hospitalization and 3,000 die.
• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration anticipates that 24 million agency-regulated products will enter the U.S. in 2011, but it expects to inspect only 1.59 percent of them.
• Nearly 3 million Americans are sickened by contaminated meat and poultry each year. Poultry carrying the salmonella pathogen is routinely sold to consumers with the expectation that they’ll protect themselves from infections.
• Even though small farms lobbied Congress successfully for an exemption from stringent new federal food safety regulations, there is no scientific evidence that their products are safer than those produced by large farms.

Carnegie-Knight Student Reporters

Rachel Albin
Rachel Albin | National Project Fellow | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Rachel Albin is a bilingual reporter and photographer from Nebraska. Her past projects include university reports on immigration and Bolivian coca. She also investigated migrants’ post-traumatic stress disorder along the Arizona-Sonora border for the Daily Nebraskan, the student paper of which she was managing editor. She has interned at the Kearney (Neb.) Hub and the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune. She graduated with her bachelor’s in journalism in May 2011.

Jeffrey Benzing
Jeffrey Benzing | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Jeffrey Benzing is a multimedia reporter from the Dallas area. He has worked at publications in central Texas, including the Texas Observer and the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, and has most recently worked as an editorial assistant at American Journalism Review in College Park, Md. He will cover Washington for Capital News Service in fall 2011 and will graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Maryland in December.

Kyle Bruggeman
Kyle Bruggeman | National Project Fellow | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Kyle Bruggeman is a visual journalist with a degree in graphic design and a passion for photojournalism. Bruggeman hails from Lincoln, Neb., and is proud to call himself a Husker. He enjoys living in a place where people still say hello on the street and a bike ride can get you anywhere. A Midwestern work ethic and an addiction to French-press coffee keep him going through it all.

Maggie Clark
Maggie Clark | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Maggie Clark is a Florida native and a graduate of the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Florida State University in 2009. Before joining News21, she worked as a journalist covering the Maryland legislative session and wrote for CQ Researcher in Washington.

Alicia Cormie
Alicia Cormie | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Alicia Cormie graduated from ASU in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in nonprofit management from the College of Public Programs. She has been an editorial contributor for Phoenix magazine, the Cronkite Journal and the Scottsdale Independent as well as a social media and content manager for GrowAZ.org. She developed an interest in multimedia storytelling and international reporting after spending a summer reporting in Perpignan, France.

Kerry Davis
Kerry Davis | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Kerry Davis earned her master’s in multimedia journalism in May 2011 from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Before going to graduate school, she worked as a television reporter at KVLY-TV in Fargo, N.D., and at WPRI-TV in Providence, R.I. She got out of journalism for a while, then realizing how much she missed journalism, jumped back in.

Esther French
Esther French | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Esther French snapped photos of chickens in mobile coops, recorded warehouse traffic jam sounds, interviewed farmers and slogged through murky government regulations in the pursuit of food safety stories. Her byline has appeared in The Washington Post and on various news websites. She has written investigative pieces as well as medical news and community features. She graduated in May 2011 with a double degree in journalism and Spanish.

Nicole Gilbert

Nicole Gilbert | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Nicole Gilbert is a San Diego native who plans to graduate from the Cronkite School in 2012 with a master’s degree and two bachelor’s degrees. Her areas of study are journalism, mass communication and sustainability. Gilbert has worked for ASU Student Media, AZ Fact Check, The Associated Press and ITV Cable 16 San Diego. She is working on a multimedia project about Phoenix air quality for her thesis for Barrett, the Honors College, at ASU.

Judah Gross
Judah Gross | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

A Philadelphia native, Judah Gross began studying journalism at the University of Maryland in 2008. He took a year off after high school to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and worked as an EMT. At Maryland, he was the editor in chief of The Mitzpeh independent Jewish magazine. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Prince George’s Sentinel, Heeb Magazine and New Voices.

Emily Hooper
Emily Hooper | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Emily Hooper is a senior journalism student at Maryland. She is interested in all forms of storytelling, from traditional print to multimedia and broadcast. She serves as the center editor for Unwind! Magazine and has written for many publications on campus, including The Diamondback student newspaper. She also has interned at PBS 39 and NBC Philadelphia.

Joanne Ingram
Joanne Ingram | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Joanne Ingram earned her bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico before coming to the Cronkite to pursue a master’s degree. Her articles have appeared in the East Valley Tribune, Tucson Sentinel, Foothills Focus and on Cronkite News. She and her classmates created a multimedia project, “State of Change,” which won two Broadcast Education Association awards. She expects to graduate in December 2011.

Mattea Kramer

Mattea Kramer | National Project Fellow | Harvard University

Mattea Kramer received a bachelor’s in economics from Amherst College before deciding to study for her master’s degree in public policy. She is a recent graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Kramer has worked on several political campaigns and in the areas of public health and food policy. She also has been a freelance writer.

Max Levy
Max Levy | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Max Levy is a Swedish-American from the suburbs of Washington who grew up in the Northeast and then found his way to Arizona. As a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree at the Cronkite School, he worked on the school’s award-winning “State of Change” multimedia project and as a reporter for Cronkite News Service, covering the nation’s capital out of the school’s new Washington, D.C., bureau.

Teresa Lostroh
Teresa Lostroh | National Project Fellow | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Teresa Lostroh is a farm girl from Malcolm, Neb (population 450). As a senior news-editorial and Spanish major, she’s spent two semesters as a reporter/videographer for ABC News on Campus. She also has interned at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and the Norfolk (Neb.) Daily News as well as serving as a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund copy editing intern. She worked for more than two years as a copy editor and reporter at the Daily Nebraskan student newspaper.

Andrew Mach
Andrew Mach | National Project Fellow | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Andrew Mach is a senior pursuing degrees in broadcasting, news-editorial and German, with a concentration in history. Mach has been a reporter, videographer and producer for ABC News on Campus, a multimedia journalist for The Washington Post, a reporter for The Local-Berlin, an online English news portal in Berlin, Germany, and as an associate producer for ZDF Morgenmagazin, the morning show of Europe’s largest television network, also in Berlin.

Andy Marso
Andy Marso | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Andy Marso is a versatile, award-winning journalist who has written daily stories and features for news outlets ranging from small community weeklies to The Washington Post. He has trained with top instructors at the University of Kansas and the University of Maryland. He maintains a Twitter account and a blog and is adept at multimedia and database reporting.

Robynne McCullough
Robynne McCullough | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Robyne McCullough, a multimedia journalist from Baltimore, graduated from Maryland in May 2011 with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in Spanish language and culture. She has interned for WBFF Fox 45 in Baltimore and at W-USA9 and WTTG Fox 5 in Washington. She was a member of the Maryland Newsline production team for three years and is an alumnus of the Civicus and Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House living and learning programs.

Tarryn Mento
Tarryn Mento | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Tarryn Mento is a Syracuse, N.Y., native who has an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University at Albany-SUNY. She was a staff writer for the Albany Student Press and an editorial intern for the Times Union newspaper. As a graduate student at the Cronkite School, she has been a contributing writer for Cronkite News Service, covering election night 2010, and helped design the graduate class’s award-winning website “State of Change.”

Nathan O'Neal
Nathan O’Neal | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Nathan O’Neal is studying broadcast journalism at the Cronkite School and is part of the school’s dual bachelor’s and master’s program. He has been chief of the ABC News on Campus Bureau and interned at the NBC affiliate in Phoenix. He attended the Institute of Political Journalism at Georgetown University and interned at a digital media company in Washington. He recently produced a documentary on immigration in the Dominican Republic.

Whitney Phillips
Whitney Phillips | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Whitney Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Dixie State College in southern Utah. As an undergraduate, she was a section editor for the weekly college newspaper. At the Cronkite School, she helped produce the graduate class’s award-winning “State of Change” multimedia project. She also was part of a student reporting team in the Dominican Republic that produced a multimedia project on statelessness among Haitians.

Brandon Quester
Brandon Quester | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Brandon Quester is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter in his second semester as a graduate student at the Cronkite School. Quester spent five years as a reporter and photojournalist before returning to school for his master’s degree. His work has taken him around the world to tell stories about children living along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. soldiers serving in Kuwait and Iraq and street children living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Brad Racino
Brad Racino | National Project Fellow | University of Missouri

Brad Racino is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in photojournalism and investigative reporting at the University of Missouri. He graduated from SUNY Albany in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and spent the next six years in various photography jobs that ranged from shooting for a local newspaper and managing a photography company in New York to shooting underwater adventure tours in the Bahamas for a production company.

Madhu Rajarman
Madhu Rajarman | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Madhu Rajaraman is a graduate student in multimedia journalism at the University of Maryland. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2009 from Rutgers University, with a double major in English and psychology. She has worked as a freelance reporter for the Sayreville (N.J.) Progress newspaper and the Prince George’s Sentinel and as an intern for Cambridge University Press in New York, the Association of Public Health Laboratories and American Journalism Review.

Stephanie Snyder
Stephanie Snyder | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Stephanie Snyder is pursuing a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree at the Cronkite School as well as a minor in Spanish. She has interned for The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Capitol Times. She is a co-founder of the Downtown Devil, an independent, student website covering downtown Phoenix. She has written about state agencies that violated an energy-reduction law, young Latinos who lack male role models and immigration in the Dominican Republic.

Dustin Volz
Dustin Volz | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Dustin Volz is pursuing a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree at the Cronkite School. Volz also is studying American history, with a focus on media coverage of modern warfare and diplomacy. He has interned at The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Capitol Times and written a weekly column for ASU’s student newspaper, The State Press. He is a managing editor for The Downtown Devil, an independent, student-run online publication serving downtown Phoenix.

Joe Yerardi
Joe Yerardi | National Project Fellow | Arizona State University

Joe Yerardi is a graduate student at the University of Missouri, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in investigative reporting. He has previously worked at the ABC News Investigative Unit, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Columbia Missourian. Upon graduating in May 2012, he hopes to pursue a career in database journalism and investigative reporting.

Maria Zilberman
Maria Zilberman | National Project Fellow | University of Maryland

Maria Zilberman is a senior journalism major and creative writing minor at the University of Maryland, slated to graduate in December 2011. She spent the summer of 2010 as a Dow Jones News Fund business reporting interning at the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. Previously, she interned at the Huffington Post Investigative Fund in Washington and at The Daily Record in Baltimore.

Leadership Team

Sandy Banisky
Sandy Banisky | Editor | University of Maryland

Sandy Banisky teaches urban affairs reporting, directing students who spend a semester in Baltimore reporting on issues important to cities She also has taught news writing, media law, the complex story and the history of journalism. Before joining the college in 2008, she was deputy managing editor at The Baltimore Sun. A graduate of Boston University, she has a law degree from the University of Baltimore and is a member (inactive) of the Maryland bar.

Jody Brannon
Jody Brannon | Executive Producer | Arizona State University

Jody Brannon is national director for News21. A former newspaper and magazine writer and editor, she began her digital journalism career in 1995 for washingtonpost.com, rising to managing editor and executive producer. She served as executive producer at USATODAY.com and as ombudsman and director of experimental programming at MSN.com. A member of the Online News Association board, she chairs the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

Nancie Dodge
Nancie Dodge | Multimedia Adviser | Arizona State University

A graduate of the Cronkite School at Arizona State University, Dodge is now a faculty associate at the school, teaching online journalism and advanced online journalism for students in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. She is an avid photographer and hiker.

Steve Doig
Steve Doig | Computer-Assisted Reporting Adviser | Arizona State University

Steve Doig joined the Cronkite faculty in 1996 as the school’s first Knight Chair in Journalism following a 23-year career in newspaper journalism. An expert in computer-assisted reporting, Doig was part of an investigative team at The Miami Herald that won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for an analysis on how weakened building codes and poor construction contributed to the devastation of Hurricane Andrew.

Leonard Downie Jr.
Leonard Downie Jr. | Weil Family Professor of Journalism Seminar Instructor and Project Editor | Arizona State University

Leonard Downie Jr. is vice president-at-large at The Washington Post, where he served as executive editor from 1991 to 2008. Downie is a founder and board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. and chairman of the board of advisers of Kaiser Health News. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Ohio State University. He now teaches the News21 seminar and accountability journalism at the Cronkite School.

Kristin Gilger
Kristin Gilger | Associate Dean and Executive Editor | Arizona State University

Kristin Gilger is in charge of professional programs for the Cronkite School and is executive editor of News21. She was previously director of Student Media at ASU, deputy managing editor for news at The Arizona Republic, managing editor of The Statesman Journal newspaper in Salem, Ore., and served in various editing positions at the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. Gilger received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Nebraska.

Sean Mussenden
Sean Mussenden | Executive Producer | University of Maryland

Sean Mussenden is director of the Capital News Service College Park bureau at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill Collegeof Journalism, where he also teaches online journalism. Prior to joining the faculty of the journalism school — his alma mater — he was a multimedia reporter and editor in the Washington bureau of Media General newspapers and a statehouse reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.

Deborah Nelson
Deborah Nelson | Coordinating Editor | University of Maryland

Deborah Nelson joined the Merrill faculty in 2006 after five years as the Washington investigations editor for The Los Angeles Times. She also reported for the Washington Post, Seattle Times and Chicago Sun-Times. She is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Fulbright specialist in investigative reporting. At Maryland, she directs the Carnegie seminar, which mixes instruction by university experts with hands-on reporting.

Sharon Rosenhause
Sharon Rosenhause | Managing Editor | Arizona State University

Sharon Rosenhause, retired as managing editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, is president of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. She previously was managing editor of the San Francisco Examiner, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle’s PM Edition and worked at the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times and Bergen (N.J.) Record. A four-time Pulitzer Prize juror, Rosenhause was a visiting professor of ethics at the Cronkite School in 2010.

Carole Sugarman
Carole Sugarman | Research Adviser | University of Maryland

Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter at The Washington Post for more than 20 years, where she specialized in food safety issues. After leaving the Post in 2002, she covered the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Food Chemical News, a food policy publication. Sugarman is currently the food editor of Bethesda Magazine.

Other Support

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott | Copy Editor | Arizona State University

Steve Elliott joined the Cronkite School in 2006 after a 19-year career with The Associated Press. His AP career included tours as a reporter, newsroom manager, bureau chief and business executive. As the digital director of Cronkite News Service, Elliott leads groups of advanced students in coverage of statewide stories for newspapers and news websites.

Kristi Kappes
Kristi Kappes | Program Manager | Arizona State University

Kristi Kappes joined News21 in 2008 after serving as senior accountant in ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation. She previously worked at the University of Sioux Falls. She has a master’s in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s in business management from Mesa State College.

Niclas Lind
Niclas Lindh | Web Production | Arizona State University

Niclas Lindh is the Cronkite School Web master and instructional technology analyst. He built the school’s website and the site for Cronkite News and helps faculty and students use technology. He also has taught graphic design at the school. Prior to coming to ASU, he worked as a writer, programmer and system administrator.

Mark Ng
Mark Ng | Web Developer | Arizona State University

Mark Ng is the lead Web applications developer at the Cronkite School. He worked for several business-to-business and business-to-consumer media companies, ran his own consultancy and acted as chief technology officer for a London-based Web agency. He served as the technical lead for a Media Standards Trust project to create a new metadata format for news stories.

Stanton Paddock
Stanton Paddock | Multimedia Editor | University of Maryland

Stanton Paddock teaches visual journalism at the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, where he is also a Ph.D. student. He is an award-winning photojournalist and multimedia reporter. He holds a bachelor’s degrree in Classics and Egyptology from Emory University and a master’s in Visual Communications and Photojournalism from Ohio University.

Also Contributing

  • Copy editing: Marylou Tousignant, Maryland.
  • Database reporting: Tom Malley, Maryland.
  • Fact checking: Grant Martin, ASU; Andrew Damsted, Maryland.
  • Financial and travel support: Cindy Coffman, ASU; Vanessa Lee, Maryland.
  • Graphics and graphic advising: Andrew Long, ASU.
  • Photo editing: Stanton Paddock, Maryland.
  • Post-production: Brandon Quester and Lisa Ruhl, ASU.
  • Site design: Bill Pliske, ASU.
  • Web development: Britton Halle, ASU.

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