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Master's Student Wins Emmy for Investigative Reporting

By TAYLOR JACKSON BUCHANAN

G.W. Schulz, a first-year master’s student in the School of Journalism, didn’t expect to make a name for himself through investigative reporting. He’s less concerned about gold trophies and more focused on haunting charcoal sketches that have been tacked to medical examiners’ cork boards for decades.

In fact, the names Schulz cares about most belong to the tens of thousands of unidentified Jane and John Does across the United States. His project “Left for Dead: Inside America’s Coldest Cases” has reached audiences from coast to coast through a variety of media, including podcasts, public radio, a long-form article, an interactive online tool and a 30-minute documentary.

The industry has taken notice. In September, Schulz and the rest of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) team won a News and Documentary Emmy for their investigative reporting on cold cases nationwide.  

“Remarkably, on the same day we were announced as winners, a Jane Doe murder victim at the center of our project was successfully identified by authorities in Kentucky 47 years after the young woman's remains were first discovered,” Schulz said. “After so many months of work on the story, it took my breath away to see a photo of the woman alive for the first time.”

“No Emmy can top a moment like that. It proves that cold cases are more than mere fodder for popular entertainment. They can actually be solved when officials take action.” 

Schulz plans to pursue a doctorate so he can teach journalism, but he also wants to continue reporting.

“In journalism, we’re often discouraged by mentors and colleagues to go back to school mid-career,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate. I think we should all be incentivized to go back and reexamine our ethics and learn about pivotal moments in First Amendment law. So far, I really like this program, and I feel like I made the right choice.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas in 2003, Schulz worked for alternative news weeklies and eventually for the CIR for nearly eight years. With interests in criminal justice, national security, the intelligence community and law enforcement’s relationship with terrorism, he said he is always working on four or five stories at a time.

“It’s awesome to be honored and recognized by my colleagues, but so much is changing in this profession,” he said. “Are we going to be remembered for the awards we won or are we going to be remembered for the stories we tried to tell?”

Buchanan is the School of Journalism webmaster and a graduate student in the master's pro track program.