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Arizona Republic journalist named Cronkite News director

Venita Hawthorne James

Venita Hawthorne James (left), the new director of the Cronkite News - Phoenix Bureau, talks with Cronkite student Amber Kahwaji.

February 23, 2016

Venita Hawthorne James, a veteran Arizona Republic journalist, is a new director in the Phoenix bureau at Cronkite News, a multiplatform daily news enterprise at Arizona PBS operated by Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Hawthorne James, who worked for more than three decades at the Republic, is charged with leading coverage at the Cronkite News – Phoenix Bureau, in which advanced multimedia student journalists cover important public policy issues across the state for Arizona PBS and other regional outlets.

Hawthorne James most recently led the Republic’s Community Watchdog operations, overseeing government accountability, public safety, education and other issues. In her 34 years at the Republic, she had a number of leadership roles, including West Valley editor, acting metro editor and communities editor, among others. She also reported on Maricopa County Superior Court and Phoenix City Hall.

“Venita is an excellent journalist with a deep understanding of our state and region,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “Her experience leading news coverage at the Republic makes her a perfect fit to direct the Cronkite News Phoenix bureau and mentor our students.”

At the Republic, Hawthorne James led teams that launched community newspapers and websites in the West Valley and other regions. She also led the Republic’s website,, in conducting in-person and virtual town hall meetings on major issues and launched the Valley's first virtual school-choice fair for middle school students and parents. 

A graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., Hawthorne James is a former chapter president and regional director of the National Association of Black Journalists.

“I am excited and honored to join the team at the Cronkite School, which builds excellence and innovation in journalism,” Hawthorne James said.

Cronkite News is the news division of Arizona PBS, the state’s main PBS station. Reaching 1.9 million households, it is the nation’s largest media outlet operated by a journalism school. With news bureaus in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles, the news-gathering operation includes 15 full-time editors/professors and more than 120 students who produce daily news content on TV and digital platforms for Arizona audiences.

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