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Cronkite School lights up during election night

November 06, 2008

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication was abuzz with activity during election night as students produced live reports, a crowd watched returns on the large-screen TV in the First Amendment Forum and media interacted with Cronkite and ASU experts on hand to provide commentary during the event.

“We had several hundred students, faculty, staff and guests throughout the building. Half of our full-time faculty and staff were on hand. The electricity was palpable,” said Christopher Callahan, Cronkite School dean.

While Cronkite students covered the race, ASU faculty - Craig Allen, Aaron Brown, Robert Denhardt, Steve Elliott, Dan Gillmor, Andrew Leckey, Kelly McDonald, Bruce Merrill and Rick Rodriguez – served as expert commentators for journalists covering the elections.

Under the direction of News Director Mark Lodato, the school’s Cronkite NewsWatch team produced 3½ hours of live election coverage seen across the Valley on KAET  Digital, ASU-TV and city cable stations. Fifty NewsWatch students and student volunteers were joined by several dozen faculty, faculty associates and staff. Lodato and his team directed coverage during the night from the building’s sixth floor while other faculty and students worked the field.

Students conducted live interviews with Gov. Janet Napolitano, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Congressman Trent Franks and many others. Students reported from live newsroom locations, the First Amendment Forum and Democratic and Republican headquarters via live satellite trucks.

Cronkite News Service, under the direction of Broadcast Director Sue Green, filed reports for ABC News,,, KSTV in Yuma, Dan Rather Reports (on HD Net) and Australian radio.

The Cronkite News Service team led by director Steve Elliott filed eight bylined stories – ranging from articles on constitutional amendments and school redistricting to a feature on Cornville, the town where John McCain is a part-time resident. Cronkite News Service students updated their stories throughout the night as election returns filtered into the newsroom. Their work was picked up by numerous outlets including:; Tucson Citizen; Mohave Daily News in Bullhead City; and the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff.

Leslie-Jean Thornton’s first-year new media graduate students fanned out to newsrooms around the building. Some ran LiveElect, a “live blog” featuring breaking news reports, photos and links, augmented by a Twitter feed with short breaking news messages sent to and from phones and computers. News photos were stored on Flickr. Students provided reports from Barack Obama’s Chicago headquarters, ran a Twitter service to keep NewsWatch students in the loop and freelanced for France 24, a Paris-based international news channel with crews at the Arizona Biltmore.

Other students filed deadline stories from the Cronkite building to the State Press, and the Blaze campus radio station did live reports from the Forum during its extensive election coverage.