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AP exec to lead student-run news service

July 18, 2006

Steve Elliott, former Phoenix bureau chief for the Associated Press and now a New York-based executive for the world's largest news organization, will be the founding director of the Cronkite News Service print journalism program at ASU.

Elliott, who directed AP's Arizona news operation from 1998-2003, will lead the newest program of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Elliott will lead groups of advanced Cronkite School students in coverage of statewide stories for newspapers and news Web sites. Students' work, which will focus on critical public policy issues, will be transmitted to news operations statewide via a new wire service run by the school and directed by Elliott.

Cronkite News Service is based on Capital News Service, a similar public affairs reporting program at the University of Maryland that was headed by Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan when he was at Maryland 's journalism school.

“Cronkite News Service will be a tremendous learning opportunity for our best students while providing critical coverage to Arizonans through established news organizations around the state,” Callahan says. “And there is no one better to lead this operation than Steve Elliott, a first-rate national journalist with superb editing and mentoring skills who also knows intimately the people and issues of Arizona .”

The appointment was applauded by journalism leaders across the region.

“I am thrilled to hear that Steve is coming home to Arizona to serve in this new role,” says the Arizona Republic 's editor, Ward Bushee, a member of the Cronkite School Endowment Board. “His AP background will be invaluable. Few know the state's media as well as he does. He is highly respected, and I know he will be an outstanding teacher.”

Win Holden, publisher of Arizona Highways Magazine and former chairman of the Cronkite Endowment Board, called Elliott a “world-class journalist.”

“Steve's enviable professional skill set is exceeded only by his strong ethical orientation and compassion.” Holden says. “Steve is the latest in a series of high-profile hires by Dean Chris Callahan that have dramatically raised the positive perception of the Cronkite School in the academic and professional journalism communities.”

Elliott, who was raised in Phoenix , was the 1987 outstanding journalism graduate at the University of Arizona, where he was editor of the Tombstone Epitaph.

He started his professional journalism career in the Honolulu bureau of the Associated Press, where he was a reporter for four years before being promoted to the AP national desk in New York as an editor and supervisor. He later served as news editor in the Milwaukee bureau and assistant bureau chief in San Francisco. He returned to Arizona in 1997 as news editor in the Phoenix bureau and was named chief of bureau the following year.

During his six years with AP in Arizona , Elliott led coverage of major stories, including the 2002 wildfires, and the conviction and resignation of Gov. Fife Symington.

He also directed a landmark audit of Arizona public records access, overseeing dozens of editors and reporters from newspapers across the state. His work was honored by the Arizona Newspapers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Elliott also served as a member of the Cronkite School Endowment Board, and he holds an MBA degree from ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business.

In 2003, he returned to AP's headquarters in New York as deputy director of newspaper markets, helping develop and market news products such as asap, a pilot product aimed at attracting young readers. Earlier this year he was named AP's director of internal communications.

“I am thrilled to join the Cronkite School at such an exciting time and very happy to once again practice journalism in Arizona,” Elliott says. “I look forward to working with some of the country's best journalism students to produce a compelling news report on the issues facing Arizona and its citizens.”

Elliott, who will hold the faculty rank of professor of practice, will join the Cronkite School for the fall semester. Cronkite News Service will launch in January. It will be based at a news bureau in the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix for two years until the school opens its new complex in downtown Phoenix in August 2008.

The school previously announced the appointment of Sue Green, managing editor of ABC15 in Phoenix, as the broadcast news director of Cronkite News Service. Print and broadcast news students will work together in the downtown bureau.