Two Ball State University Graduates Win Pulitzer Prize

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Two Ball State University Graduates Win Pulitzer Prize

Aric Chokey and Dan Swenson take home one of journalism's highest honors this week.

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Winning a Pulitzer Prize is one of the highest honors a journalist can receive in their profession. Two Ball State University graduates are among the latest crop of journalists to win such an award. 

Aric Chokey, a 2015 graduate from Ball State, is a member of the staff of reporters at the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. The team was awarded a Pulitzer this week for their coverage of the Parkland school shooting in Florida.

The prize highlighted the newspaper's 10-month effort to figure out how 17 people could be murdered in what was considered one of the safest school districts in the country. 

“I was moved to a more data and graphics role as we started getting document/record dumps and data related to the shooting to help strategize how we'd tell that story online,” said Chokey. “The entire year had been a whirlwind for our newsroom because our area came under a national spotlight almost immediately after the shooting was reported."

The South Bend native has spent time at the Tampa Bay Times as well as working for the Associated Press since he graduated.

20-years eariler, Ball State churned out journalism major Dan Swenson, who is now a graphics editor for The Advocate in New Orleans, Louisiana. Swenson is another Ball State grad to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize this week. It's also his third.

“This one is a little sweeter,” Swenson said. “And the fact that I was on a smaller team that worked on the project."

Swenson, who is from Marion, was part of a smaller reporting team for the newspaper that examined the state’s discriminatory conviction system, including a Jim Crow-era law, that enabled Louisiana courts to send defendants to jail without jury consensus on the accused’s guilt. He was responsible for the data visualization of the multi-part project.

This is the second year in a row Ball State has had at least one alumni journalist win a Pulitzer Prize.

(PHOTO: Courtesy of Ball State University)

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