War News Radio Reporter Caroline Batten '14 Wins First-Place Journalism Award

by Celina De Léon
Caroline Batten '14
Caroline Batten '14 outside the War News Radio studio.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) recently awarded War News Radio correspondent Caroline Batten '14 a regional first-place award for her enterprise digital feature, "Viral Content: Free Speech, Hate Speech," on the limited online availability of the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" film posted on YouTube last fall. Batten's piece takes a closer look at Google's blockage of the video on YouTube in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Libya, and Egypt following protests spurred by the movie.

"I'm surprised and thrilled to have this piece recognized, especially in a competition that includes students in journalism programs," says Batten, an English literature major from West Newton, Mass. "It seemed to me that very few journalists were addressing the question of free speech inherent in the controversy, or discussing whether Google's selective restriction of the video was potentially unethical. War News Radio taught me that the correct response to discomfort with the mainstream news is to start investigating."

Using Storify, a media platform that allows users to create digital stories by incorporating text and images shared across various social media outlets, Batten chronicled media coverage of Google's selective online availability of the film and captured the sentiments of online commenters to reports published by the BBC, CNN, and Los Angeles Times. Batten also dug into the terms of use for both Google and YouTube and raised questions about their policies.

Batten was awarded first place in SPJ's Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards as well as a Region 1 Mark of Excellence Award in its small college online feature reporting category. SPJ's Region 1 is comprised of colleges and universities located in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and central and eastern Pennsylvania. SPJ is one of the oldest and leading organizations dedicated to the preservation of the freedom of the press and high quality journalism.

Launched in 2005, War News Radio is an award-winning Swarthmore student production of radio and blog reports and commentaries on global conflicts and wars.