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Cronkite grad students take 1st in national multimedia competition

March 02, 2011

A multimedia project by new graduate students of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University won the highest honors in the interactive multimedia competition of the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts.

The online project, “State of Change,” explores Arizona’s fascinating history, culture and people. Stories on the website, which focus on the state’s past and present, were produced in time to commemorate the state centennial in 2012.

“State of Change” was created by 27 first-semester students in the Cronkite School’s fall 2010 graduate “bootcamp” class, who self-describe on their bio page as “innovators” who are “ready to infuse new ideas into the future of journalism.”

The students covered issues such as historical land rights, settlement, growth and politics, as well as current issues such as business, immigration and water, telling the stories in video, photographs, maps, articles and interactive multimedia.

The coverage won both first place and Best of Festival in the Student Interactive Multimedia Competition.

“This is a very thoughtful collection of information on a state, past and present,” wrote one judge. Another judge described it as “great content” and the entry page as “elegant.”

The master’s students produced the project under the guidance of Professors Leslie-Jean Thornton, Bill Silcock and Ed Sylvester and Cronkite production specialist Brian Snyder.

“The project aimed to tell stories that were interesting,” said Thornton, the lead instructor. “It let some very interesting Arizonans tell some of their stories themselves, and it brought to light some of the more intriguing aspects of Arizona history and culture. We hope it will be a site that people will return to again and again, especially as Arizona prepares to celebrate its statehood centennial in 2012.”

Students said the project was a great experience and introduction to journalism.

“The most fascinating part was working with this big team of people … and this kind of amazing synergy that came together,” said master’s student Anna Consie. “It was just amazing to see the level of commitment.”

Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan said the BEA award would be a “terrific honor” for any group of journalism students, but it is “unheard of” for students just starting their journalism education. “A great testament to a talented and dedicated group of students and a truly gifted instructor,” he said.

As winners in the competition, the students and instructors were invited to attend the annual BEA convention, as well as the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Las Vegas-based conference in April.