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ASU Cronkite School teams up with Google News Lab to spread innovation

Google News Lab will train Cronkite students, faculty on new journalism tools.
ASU to serve as first-of-its-kind test bed for new training by Google News Lab.
June 13, 2016

Cronkite News' 'teaching hospital' to act as test bed for new tools and techniques to discover and distribute the news

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2016, click here.

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is teaming up with Google News Lab to help test new tools and training and encourage their use throughout journalism education.

The school will serve as a first-of-its-kind test bed for new trainings by Google News Lab through Cronkite News, the multi-platform news division of Arizona PBS, with its “teaching hospital” model of journalism education, produced by students and guided by professionals. 

Google News Lab helps journalists and entrepreneurs worldwide as they find new ways to discover, create and distribute news.

“The News Lab recognizes that the future of journalism is with the journalism professors and students of today, and we're excited to work with the Cronkite School, a leader in journalism education, in this effort to further the skills of tomorrow's budding journalists," said Nicholas Whitaker, media outreach manager at Google News Lab.

Cronkite News studio.

Starting this summer, Google News Lab staff will meet with Cronkite News faculty and students to train them on variety of journalism tools involving data visualizations, immersive storytelling, verification and fact checking, as well as audience engagement and other topics involving Google tools.

Cronkite News is the multi-platform news division of Arizona PBS, with a “teaching hospital” model of education, produced by students and guided by professionals. Photo by Courtney Sargent


“Journalism innovation starts with experimentation,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “Our students have a rare opportunity to help shape the future of journalism through this pilot with Google News Lab. We are thrilled to be the first journalism school to work on such an important project.”

At ASU, the pilot is being led by Eric Newton, Cronkite innovation chief, who drives new, cutting-edge ideas and initiatives at Cronkite News and school-wide. In addition to its nightly television news broadcast that reaches 1.9 million households, the multi-platform news operation features web, social and mobile distribution as well as reporting bureaus in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles.

“Since our students already are trying new tools and techniques, this pilot with Google News Lab was a natural,” Newton said. “Journalism students today need to know the best practices of digital journalism to get that first job, but to enjoy long careers, we think they’ll need to know how to change with the times.”



The Cronkite School is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs. The school is the home of Arizona PBS, which serves as a journalistic teaching hospital for hundreds of students who work under more than a dozen full-time faculty at Cronkite News.

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ASU Herberger Institute wins 3 highly competitive grants from National Endowment for the Arts

June 13, 2016

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has recognized ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts with grants for three separate projects totaling $50,000.

In May, the NEA announced its second round of recipients to receive grants this fiscal year, and that list included associate professor Mary Hood in the School of Art and postdoctoral scholar Alexandre Frenette. During its first round of grants, the NEA selected the Herberger Institute’s ASU Art Museum as one of 56 museums nationwide to receive a grant.  2015 Map(ing) Kate Horvat, Mac Bydalek and Craig Kelly work on a print for Map(ing) 2015. Associate professor Mary Hood recently received a grant from the NEA to help support the biennial printmaking residency program. Photo by Craig Smith. Download Full Image

“Securing a grant from the NEA is the gold standard of recognition that your ideas have national merit,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute. “To get three awards in a single year is testimony to the fact that ASU and the Herberger Institute are advancing research and creative projects that are models for the rest of the country.”

Associate professor Mary Hood received a $15,000 Art Works grant to help support her Map(ing) project, a biennial printmaking residency program that explores contemporary Native American and Indigenous artistic practices. Art Works grants, the NEA’s main grant category, are awarded to projects that result in creation of art, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts or the strengthening of communities through the arts, according to the NEA. 

For Map(ing), Native American and Indigenous artists with very limited or no printmaking experience collaborate with graduate students from the printmaking program at the ASU School of Art to create a limited edition of 25 prints. The teams use printmaking and visual storytelling to explore concepts of culture, place, language and identity. The event concludes with an exhibition and a moderated public forum.

“In the past years I’ve really scraped together the money that’s needed to put together a project like this, with help from the Herberger Institute and the School of Art, who have both funded it over years, and from a lot of community donations,” Hood said. “So the financial support is really important. But the validation of the project is also important. For a granting institution of that size to see the impact of this project is extremely rewarding.”

The Art Works grant program also funds research that investigates the impact of the arts on individuals and groups.  In this category, the NEA awarded $15,000 to help fund a study on the careers of arts graduates. Postdoctoral scholar Alexandre Frenette will partner with Timothy J. Dowd from Emory University as co-principal investigators for the project. Using data from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a national survey that documents the experiences of arts alumni, they will look at the factors that shape which graduates remain active in arts-related careers and which ones exit. Dean Tepper, who is the research director for SNAAP, will also serve as principal investigator on the project.

“There are many misleading articles and narratives out there about the careers and lives of people who study the arts,” Frenette said. “There are problems within our educational system and there is inequality, but we’ll really only understand and address these if we pay attention to real facts and data. We will use SNAAP data to better understand the careers of arts graduates and, in the process, show what’s working and what we really do need to improve.”

Frenette’s project is one of only 18 projects nationwide to receive a Research: Art Works grant from the NEA this year.

“I was surprised and very pleased,” Frenette said of receiving the grant. “We were going to pursue this work anyway, but now we can do it much more in-depth. Ultimately, then, the work will have more of an impact.”

In December, the NEA awarded $20,000 to the ASU Art Museum to support an upcoming project called Space in Between. Artist Margarita Cabrera will collaborate with the museum, the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Latino community to develop a series of soft sculptures in the form of desert plants. The project aims to address themes of art and community, craft, immigration, empowerment, cultural identity and labor practices relevant to the Arizona region and its local immigrant history. 

“Margarita Cabrera’s work expands the notion of what community-based art can accomplish by addressing social justice issues in relation to immigration, labor and identity,” said ASU Art Museum curator Julio Cesar Morales.

The sculptures will be on display at the Desert Botanical Garden in the fall of 2016. 

For more information on NEA grants and a complete list of recipients, visit

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts