War News Radio recently received two Mark of Excellence awards from Region One of the Society of Professional Journalists. "Drone Wars," a series of reports by Elliana Bisgaard-Church '13, Stuart Russell '14 and Ankhi Thakurta '12 on the U.S. military's increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles in combat won second place in the category of Radio In-Depth Reporting.
The group decided to investigate the military use of drones when they learned that the relative secrecy around the program was resulting in underreporting of drone deployment.
"With President Obama's sign-off on multilateral involvement in Libya with U.S. drones, it has become apparent that drones and other robotics are changing the way we conceive of, and fight, wars," Bisgaard-Church says. "It's a hot topic right now, but also a very complicated one, so we at War News Radio thought it would be great to do a whole show (though we ended up doing two!) on drone conflict. We gave it a new theme-based treatment, kind of Radio Lab-inspired."
The work for "Drone Wars" depended on individual contributions, but remained highly collaborative. Each student respectively focused on the legality, military history and the actual use of covert drone strikes. "Stuart, Elliana and I were always in conversation throughout the production of 'Drone Wars' -- even though we individually worked on specific aspects of the show, we kept each other informed throughout the processes," Thakurta says.
War News Radio was also awarded third place in Best All-Around Radio Newscast for its comprehensive coverage of recent social, economic and geopolitical conflicts in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and central Africa. This award specifically recognizes the reports, "Under Pressure," "Precious Metals," and "Resisting Change."
The War News Radio program is currently undergoing a transition into a new student journalism community that will support independent reporting projects across a broad range of topics and media platforms. The new project is called Lodge 6.
"We are seeing independent journalists stealing the show everywhere and preparing students to do that work is more promising than preparing one single platform that they are going to leave behind," says Jim MacMillan, journalist-in-residence at War News Radio and adviser to Lodge 6.