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Cronkite News offers daily coverage of critical issues

September 07, 2010

Arizona State University has launched Cronkite News, a news website providing Arizonans original multimedia stories each day about critical public policy issues facing the state.

Available free at, Cronkite News offers original news, feature and investigative packages combining student-produced, professionally edited video and text reports as well as photography and multimedia elements.

“This is an unprecedented endeavor,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Cronkite News will be the deepest and richest university-generated journalism content produced on a daily basis for a statewide audience anywhere.”

Callahan added that while Cronkite News is an “extraordinary and unique” learning opportunity for students, it also provides “a very real service to citizens across our state who want in-depth news and information about the most important issues facing Arizona.”

Cronkite News draws on the strengths of full-immersion professional programs at the Cronkite School, including:

- Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s award-winning 30-minute nightly newscast and the largest student-produced newscast in the world. Airing four live newscasts each week, NewsWatch is available to more than 1 million Arizonans nightly via Eight World 8.3, a digital channel of Eight, Arizona’s PBS station.

- Cronkite News Service, in which journalists produce daily news stories along with features, enterprise and investigative packages for daily and weekly newspapers, broadcast outlets and news websites statewide.

Cronkite News also incorporates special reports by journalists in the national Carnegie-Knight News21 program, which is based at the Cronkite School; AZ Fact Check, a partnership of Cronkite, The Arizona Republic, and 12 News; and the Southwest Borderlands Initiative, which looks in depth at transnational issues affecting those on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

President Michael M. Crow said Cronkite News is the latest example of a new and impactful ASU program embracing central themes of his vision of the New American University: hands-on learning, problem-solving, innovation and deep community and regional engagement.

“At a time when our state and nation face enormous challenges, the political debate has become polarized and reduced to sound bites and accusations, in part because of the changing nature of the national news media,” Crow said. “Cronkite News will perform a vitally important public service by both focusing on key issues and covering them with comprehensive and unbiased reporting.”

Cronkite News, including the text and broadcast reports and full TV newscasts, will soon be available in a mobile version suitable for iPhones and other smart phones. And visitors can engage with Cronkite News via Twitter and Facebook.

Cronkite News is directed by Steve Elliott, a former Associated Press Phoenix bureau chief and AP executive who helped launch Cronkite News Service when he joined ASU in 2006.

“Experiences such as Cronkite NewsWatch and Cronkite News Service offer unparalleled opportunities for students to improve their journalism skills and report stories that wouldn’t be told otherwise,” Elliott said. “Bringing the work of our professional programs together with Cronkite News creates a rich multimedia news report for the people of Arizona.”

Assistant Dean Mark Lodato directs the school’s TV news operations and will oversee the many video elements of Cronkite News.

"In a time when most newsrooms are getting smaller, we're able to send our reporters across Arizona to cover stories that have statewide impact," Lodato said. "This new site will allow instant access to our rich video content."

The Cronkite School, named in honor of the late CBS Evening News anchor, has enjoyed unprecedented growth since Crow made it an independent school in 2005. During the past five years, Cronkite moved into its $71 million state-of-the-art digital media complex in downtown Phoenix and added new programs such as Carnegie-Knight News21, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Cronkite News Service, the New Media Innovation Lab, ABC News on Campus, the Multimedia Reporting Program, Cronkite NewsWatch, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, and the Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship program for international journalists.

The school also has doubled its faculty and staff, adding national journalism leaders such as former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., former CNN anchor Aaron Brown, former Minneapolis Star Tribune Editor Tim McGuire, former BET Vice President Retha Hill, former Sacramento Bee Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez and digital media leader Dan Gillmor.

Over the same period, Cronkite students have dominated national journalism competitions. Cronkite students have finished first or second nationally in the Hearst Journalism Awards in four of the past five years, and have finished first in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence competition for five consecutive years.