Danielle Castonzo of Indiana University and Ivy Turinsky of School Year Abroad France have won News-Decoder’s writing contest.

Nuclear weapons, renewable energy, criminal justice, refugees, terrorism, drugs, nationalism, urban growth, sex trafficking — students who submitted work to a $1,000 contest organized by News-Decoder tackled a wide range of pressing global issues through articles, photographs, art work and a podcast.

Their multimedia stories came from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America — home to the 11 institutions in News-Decoder’s pilot program. Participants were asked to address global issues relating to conflict, development, economics, the environment, human rights or security.

A three-person jury awarded the $500 first prize in the university category to Danielle Castonzo of Indiana University. Castonzo’s story, which we will publish later this week, focused on Hiroshima’s efforts to conserve architectural remains that survived the explosion of an atomic bomb on the Japanese city in 1945.

Ivy Turinsky of School Year Abroad France won first prize in the high school segment, also worth $500. Turinsky wrote about the attacks in Paris last November that killed 130 people. We will be publishing her story, as well.

The prize money was donated by a supporter who asked to remain anonymous but who has backed News-Decoder’s mission since our crowd-funding campaign a year ago.

Serving on the jury were:

  • Bernd Debusmann, a  former columnist for Reuters who has worked as a correspondent, bureau chief and editor in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and United States;
  • Sruthi Gottipati, an independent journalist who teaches at Sciences Po in Paris and who has worked for Reuters and The New York Times;
  • Lee Huebner, a professor at the George Washington University, former publisher of the International Herald Tribune and former White House Special Assistant.

There were three runners-up in the university category: John Cottrell and Miguel Enriquez of Bournemouth University in Britain, and Samantha Schmidt of Indiana University.

Cottrell and Schmidt offered first-hand accounts of the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. Enriquez submitted a podcast on a public health menace in Britain stemming from a drug-fueled life style.

Aisha Malhas of King’s Academy in Jordan was the runner-up in the high school category with her account of the physical transformation of Amman as it has grown over time.

We will be publishing the submissions by the runners-up as well as several others from the contest.

The academic institutions in News-Decoder’s pilot program are: the American College of Thessaloniki (Greece), American University (U.S.), Aristotle University (Greece), Bournemouth University (UK), Cornell College (U.S.), Greens Farms Academy (U.S.), Indiana University (U.S.), King’s Academy (Jordan), ISF Academy (Hong Kong), School Year Abroad (China, France, Italy, Spain), Westover School (U.S.).

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ContestsCastonzo, Turinksy win News-Decoder contest