Just a few years ago, Robert Rogers (IPJ 05) was in the middle of his college career. Like most college students living in an safe campus environment, he attended classes and internships. Now, and on a daily basis, Rogers finds himself on the streets of crime-ridden neighborhoods where gang violence is way of life.
Rogers is a reporter for the San Bernardino Sun newspaper. On February 13, he was named the winner of the 2007 of the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting. The IPJ alumnus says he has always been interested in reading and reporting.
“Since I could read I can remember spending long hours sifting through my father’s old Sports Illustrated’s in the garage, marveling at how feature stories about people could be written in such an incisive, engaging way,” said Rogers.
While Rogers studied journalism and political science at California State Fullerton University, his aspiration to become a journalist was solidified in Washington, D.C. Rogers attended TFAS’s Institute on Political Journalism in 2005 and interned for USA Today.
“My summer experience with TFAS was the capstone of my collegiate experience,” said Rogers. “I learned hands-on and in-class, while making vital contacts in my career field and bolstering my resume. For me, TFAS was the perfect step in readying me for the competitive world of newspaper journalism,” he continued.
Success in reporting came quickly for Rogers. He received the award for police reporting less than two years after completing his undergraduate degree.
The award judges’ applauded Rogers for taking readers inside these violent neighborhoods and getting quotes from “bad characters without demeaning or hyping them,” as quoted in Rocky Mountain News.
Police reporting requires commitment and courage in addition to reporting skills. In 2006, Roger’s was accidentally shot during a drive-by shooting while on assignment.
“Rogers is fearless,” said San Bernardino editor Steve Lambert. “But he also cares a tremendous amount for the city he covers and the neighborhoods he works in day in and day out,” as quoted in the San Bernardino Sun.
The Nakkula award is a national award sponsored by the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Press Club. The award is considered a top honor of its kind in the country.
Rogers will accept the award on June 22 at the Denver Press Club’s annual Damon Runyon Award Banquet.