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CCI Student Participates in Prestigious News21 Program

Rilwan BalogunRilwan Balogun (BS/JEM ’15) along with 27 of the top journalism students from across the country participated in the 2015 News21 program at Arizona State University during this past summer. Balogun’s participation was made possible by a generous gift from CCI Board of Visitors (BOV) member John Williams (BS/JEM ‘71) and his wife, Patty (SIS endorsement ‘86), of Kingsport, Tennessee. 

This summer’s News21 project was “America’s Weed Rush” covering several aspects and issues surrounding the use and distribution of marijuana. The project covered stories under six categories: politics, medical, recreational, science, money and enforcement.  Balogun was assigned to the team investigating the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Balogun and the other News21 Fellows from across the country produced several stories on the topic incorporating multimedia and data visuals throughout. The complete set of News21 reports can be viewed at Balogun said, “This program taught me so much about this profession and the different aspects of being a multimedia journalist. It has been a very interesting experience, which gave me the chance to hone my investigative reporting skills. I am using everything I learned while at UT!”

 Balogun and his fellow student reporters traveled to Hawaii for News21. “We went to Hawaii because of their medical marijuana system. It is very confusing and vague. In the bill, the program was under the Department of Public Safety (police), and, while under them, they could not give information to patients about where to get their marijuana or even how to grow it. So, we thought that must mean they have a huge black market. Once I did more digging, I found out we were correct. They have a huge black market. And if you talk to locals, they’ll tell you that some law enforcement officers are a part of the market,” Balogun said. As a part of his reporting, Balogun posted this video he calls, “one of my best,”

Rilwan Balogun, one of three CCI students named as 2015 UT Torchbearers, expressed his sincere gratitude to John and Patty Williams for providing him with a fellowship, which made it possible for him to participate in the News21 program. He will take his UT and News21 experiences with him to his first career assignment at the NBC affiliate in Lansing, Michigan with WILX News 10. More information about Rilwan Balogun can be found on his website at