News executives arrive at ASU's Cronkite School to innovate local TV news

August 22, 2018

Leading local television news executives from across the country are at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to take part in a new program designed to spark innovation and change at their stations. 

The executives are participating in the Local Television News Innovation Table Stakes Project, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through a $1.9 million grant to advance digital and broadcast innovation in local television news. Cronkite Table Stakes The Cronkite School is hosting news executives from across the country to take part in a new program designed to spark innovation and change in local TV news. Photo by Marcus Chormicle Download Full Image

The Aug. 21-23 session is the first of five over the course of the year in which the executives will work to cultivate effective change-management strategies to promote innovation in areas such as TV news format, digital storytelling and revenue generation.

The participants are senior leaders from top media companies, including ABC, Graham Media Group, Morgan Murphy Media, News-Press and Gazette Co., Raycom Media, E.W. Scripps Co. and Univision.

The Table Stakes Project is modeled after the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, a program designed to help news organizations accelerate the transformations of their newsrooms to produce more compelling digital content, engage readers on multiple platforms, build digital revenue streams and ensure their long-term sustainability.

Douglas K. Smith, who leads the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, is the architect of table stakes. He said the methodology comes from poker, which requires a set amount of money to have a seat at the table.

“It’s a way of thinking about business strategy, and it applies to any industry,” Smith said. “In the game of news, you have to think about what is required to play and win.”

Smith developed the approach for the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative in 2015 for major metropolitan newspapers as a way to help accelerate the shift from print to digital and help the organizations evolve newsroom practices, reach new audiences and engage communities. Table stakes consists of seven common themes involving core work: workflow, roles, skills, technology, tools, organization and culture. 

Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative positioned four major new organizations — The Dallas Morning News, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Miami Herald and Philadelphia Media Network — to become digital-first newsrooms. 

Cronkite Associate Dean Mark Lodato said the Table Stakes Project at ASU is looking to have similar success to the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative. He said this is the first time table stakes has been applied in a program exclusively for local television news. 

“Our objective is for all participating stations to achieve the goals they set — and, in doing so, build capabilities required for success going forward,” Lodato said. “With a high degree of collaboration and trust, the industry will benefit from this process.”

Participants at Cronkite will work to identify a core challenge and define success in terms of results and outcomes. The challenge will serve as the focal point throughout the year, in which the teams and their colleagues back home use assigned tasks with the guidance of coaches to achieve success. 

During the second through fifth gatherings, teams update one another on progress against the challenges, holding themselves accountable for what is working, what is not and what will come next. In addition, teams hear from subject matter experts whose work relates to common themes across the challenges. 

Emily L. Barr, president and CEO of Graham Media Group, is sending three of her top executives to the Table Stakes Project at ASU. Her organization owns local television stations in Detroit; Houston; Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida; San Antonio; and Roanoke, Virginia. She said her team is looking forward to collaborating with industry leaders. 

“We know the stakes are high when it comes to the challenges and opportunities our newsrooms face in this new media landscape,” Barr said. “Television may be our legacy, but it’s just the beginning of the potential our teams embrace as we look at the potential in each of our communities. Our journalists are the connective tissue that brings together the diverse voices in our respective markets. We owe it to our growing audiences to continue evolving with them on the platforms that are most responsive to their needs and lifestyles.”

Panchanathan appointed VP of National Academy of Inventors

August 22, 2018

Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and chief research and innovation officer at Arizona State University, has been appointed vice president of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) to strategically advance research, innovation, entrepreneurship and education through invention.  

"The National Academy of Inventors is thrilled to have Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan take on the role of vice president of strategic initiatives and membership,” said Paul Sanberg, NAI president. “His intellect, energy and passion for innovation are unparalleled. We are delighted to have him not only as a member of our board of directors, but more importantly as vice president responsible for advancing and shaping the future of NAI. I look forward to his partnership and leadership.” Sethuraman Panchanathan talks with a student in the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing Sethuraman Panchanathan talks with a student in the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing. Download Full Image

Founded in 2010, the NAI is a coalition of more than 250 national and international universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes. Its stated mission is to recognize and encourage inventors issued patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, raise visibility of academic technologies, mentor students and turn the inventions of its members into benefits for society.

“I am honored to take on this role and excited to further the NAI’s mission to advance the innovative spirit globally, recognize inventors, mentor young minds and translate academic findings to meaningful solutions for society,” Panchanathan said.

ASU is one of NAI’s nine sustaining member institutions. Under Panchanathan’s leadership, ASU launched its own NAI chapter to promote invention and recognize innovation across the university. In 2017–18, the chapter boasted 46 members, including 12 new ones.

This selection adds to a series of prestigious national appointments Panchanathan has received. In 2014, he became the first American of Indian origin to join the National Science Board (NSB), appointed by President Barack Obama. That same year, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker appointed him to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Panchanathan has chaired the Committee of Strategy and Budget at the NSB as well as the Council of Research at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities among many other appointments. He has also served as the co-chair of the Taskforce on Extreme Innovation at the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils.

In addition to advancing the mission of research and development during his service on multiple boards and committees, Panchanathan brings decades of experience in mentorship to his new position at the NAI. In the course of his career, he’s mentored nearly 150 graduate students, postdoctoral students and researchers, many of whom have gone on to hold leading positions in both academia and industry.

As a prolific inventor, Panchanathan has obtained several patents and copyrights and published close to 450 papers in prestigious journals and conferences. His research interests include human-centered multimedia computing, haptic user interfaces, person-centered tools and ubiquitous computing technologies, and machine learning in multimedia. His interest in assistive and adaptive technologies led him to found the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), which has birthed a number of devices aimed at enhancing the quality of life for persons with disabilities, one of which won the Governor’s Innovator of the Year – Academia award in 2004.