Cronkite professor assists with China quake crisis

June 18, 2008

Xu Wu was in his native country of China when a massive earthquake struck on May 12. Wu has been there ever since, witnessing first hand the horror and intense sorrow felt by the Chinese people after the tragedy.

“I knew many people who were impacted by the quake, covered the quake or helped the quake victims. The images are unbearable. I cried three times over the past month,” Wu says. Download Full Image

Wu, an assistant professor in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is in China working on a dean’s research grant for a project entitled, “China’s Olympic PR & Crisis management: A Case Study of Chinese Government’s Crisis Management Skills, Before, During and After the March 2008 Riots in Tibet.”

After the earthquake, his work efforts expanded to encompass quake crisis management.

Wu was in one of the largest cities in China - Guangzhou - giving a lecture on crisis communications to students at Sun Yat-Sen University when the earthquake hit 800 miles away.

“From May 21 until now, I have been in Beijing working with various media organizations, government agencies and research institutes on China’s response to the catastrophic 8.0-scale earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people and left more than 5 million people homeless,” Wu says.

China is still in the painful process of dealing with secondary disasters after the earthquake. The quake showcased many moving, heroic moments among the Chinese people but it also exposed loopholes in the country’s crisis response structure, risk communications and non-governmental organizational systems.

“The upcoming Olympics further complicated the recovery phase of the disaster relief, not only physically, but also psychologically. It is a huge test to the Chinese government and to the Chinese people,” Wu says.

Wu originally went to China in March to assist with public relations in crisis management planning prior to the Beijing Olympics. He was presenting a paper on the topic to journalism students and government officials at Tsinghua University when he first heard of violent demonstrations and riots that were spinning out of control in Tibet.

“It was not until two days later when I landed in the United States that the pictures and videos of those chaotic scenes began to surface on YouTube, BBC, CNN and then all the major media outlets in the world,” Wu says. He returned to China in May after receiving the dean’s research grant and plans to come back to the United States in July.

His views on crisis communications have appeared in several newspapers and news magazines. Wu was recently interviewed by the The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He is a regular contributor to the second largest daily newspaper in China, Global Times, and he has written for Oriental Outlook Weekly, China’s equivalent to Newsweek. He has talked about China’s crisis management during the earthquake on “Dialogue,” China Central Television’s English program that is broadcast worldwide. He also discussed the Olympics and China’s public relations efforts on Al Jazeera’s English Channel and the BBC’s “World Today.”

Officials in China have benefited from Wu’s lectures, training and consultation sessions about communicating with people from other countries and foreign media during a crisis. One of the challenges he has sought to overcome are common misperceptions among Americans about China.

“Misperceptions lead to misjudgments, and misjudgments lead to misfortunes. Both Americans and Chinese cannot afford these types of misperceptions and misjudgments anymore, given the interdependent and globalized world. For example, more than 95 percent of Americans have no idea what Shanghai looks like,” Wu says. “Shanghai has more than 4,500 skyscrapers, all of them built within the past 20 years.”

Wu grew up in China and worked as a national correspondent for the national Xinhua News Agency before he resigned in 1997 and formed a public relations agency in Beijing. After deciding to pursue his graduate degree at the University of Florida, he stayed in the “swamp” for five years before joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2005. His research focuses on China’s online media, international public relations, crisis management, political communication and mass communication theories. His book, “Chinese Cyber Nationalism,” was published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Groups in 2007.

ASU Research Magazine is best in nation

June 18, 2008

ASU Research Magazine has won the gold medal as the best university research magazine in the United States. The award was presented as part of the 2008 Circle of Excellence program sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) based in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve won a lot of gold, silver and bronze medals from CASE in past years for illustration, design and individual writing, but this is the biggest award our magazine has ever won in my 23 years as editor,” says Conrad J. Storad, director of ASU Research Publications.
Storad and his staff are reveling in the fact that they produce the very best research magazine in the country, but they’re not stopping there. Download Full Image

To date, staff members at Research Publications have won 28 awards for their work in 2007-2008 alone. The honors come from six different regional, national and international professional communication organizations.

In May, staff members brought home three Silver Communicator Awards of Distinction from the International Academy of the Visual Arts based in New York. The Award of Distinction is presented to projects that exceed industry standards in quality and excellence.

ASU’s winners include:

• Best Educational Institution Magazine – ASU Research Magazine.

• Feature Articles – “The Art of Leaving” by Melissa Crytzer Fry.

• Feature Articles – “Saguaro’s End” by Adelheid Fischer.

Storad’s staff also went eight-for-eight in the 2008 Cactus Quill awards program sponsored by the Tucson chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). The competition was open to professional communicators from across Arizona.

ASU’s 2008 Cactus Quill award winners were in the following categories:

• Magazine – ASU Research Magazine.

• Magazine Design – ASU Research Magazine.

• Electronic Communication/Web Site – ASU Research e-Zine.

• Writing – “Cosmic Playground” by Diane Boudreau (ASU Research Magazine).

• Writing – “Fuels of Green” by Diane Boudreau (ASU Research Magazine).

• Writing – “The Art of Leaving” by Melissa Crytzer Fry (ASU Research Magazine).

• Illustration – “Taking Leave” by Michael Hagelberg (ASU Research Magazine).

• Illustration – “Filling Green” by Michael Hagelberg (ASU Research Magazine).

Hagelberg, the art director on Storad’s staff, also won national recognition from the University and College Designers Association for his outstanding illustration work. His original art was displayed as part of an international exhibit in Toronto, Ontario.

Other new awards won for the Research Publications’ trophy case this year include three Silver Quill Awards from the IABC Southern Region, three silver medals and one bronze medal from CASE District 7 (which includes competition from professional communicators working at colleges and universities in seven western states) and six IABC/Phoenix Copper Quill Awards.

“Our research publications team is second to none,” says Rick Shangraw, ASU’s vice president for research and economic affairs. “They are committed to communicating ASU’s research in compelling and creative ways, and their approach keeps achieving results and earning recognition.”

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Office of Research and Economic Affairs

Lisa Robbins

Editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications