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Medill Students Contribute to ABC 'Loose Nukes'

October 13, 2005 | by Wendy Leopold
Michael Andersen

Michael Andersen - photo © ABC News

Karson Yiu

Karson Yiu - photo © ABC News

EVANSTON, Ill. --- When Northwestern University students Michael Andersen and Karson Yiu were assigned to work with an ABC News investigative unit last summer, the two were sworn to secrecy. The result of their efforts will air tomorrow, Oct. 13, in an hour-long “Primetime” report that is part of the larger series “Loose Nukes on Main Street: The New Terror Threat.”

Medill School of Journalism graduate students Andersen and Yiu were part of a team of ten graduate students from five of the nation’s best journalism programs working over the summer for ABC News on an investigation of security at the country’s 25 university nuclear reactors.

The students were assigned to ABC’s Brian Ross investigative unit that, since 9/11, primarily has focused on issues of terrorism. Their assignment was to investigate the security of nuclear research reactors operating at colleges and universities around the country.

Ross’s previous reports on gaps in port security won the prestigious Columbia-DuPont Award and led to Congressional hearings.

The reactors the students investigated “are very small, so there’s no danger from meltdowns, which is what everybody used to worry about, but there is some danger of theft or sabotage,” explained Medill’s Anderson, who said his summer experience, while excellent, reconfirmed his desire to work in print journalism.

It had the opposite effect on Yiu, who received his master’s degree from Medill earlier this year. Now working on a freelance basis for ABC’s Primetime and 20/20, he said his summer experience cemented his plans for a career in broadcast journalism.

Yiu also said his Medill education, with its emphasis on thoroughness and accuracy, prepared him well for the research phase of the summer program. “When we actually got out in the field, because of my Medill broadcast experience, I instinctively knew what shots were needed to tell the story.”

The 10 students -- from Northwestern, Columbia University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Southern California and Harvard University -- were the first ABC Summer Institute Carnegie Scholars. The creation of the summer institute was announced last spring along with announcement of a three-year, $6 million initiative funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

The Carnegie-Knight Initiative was established to revitalize and reform American journalism education.

Topics: People