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Cronkite School to serve as election night center

October 30, 2008

The new home of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix will serve as an election night hub, with top analysts providing commentary, students and community members watching the returns in the First Amendment Forum and advanced students producing three hours of live TV election coverage.

“The new Cronkite School building was designed for major public events – and there’s no more important and exciting event than a presidential election,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We will have students, faculty, political leaders and community members all together sharing in this historic night.”

Leading political and media analysts from Arizona State University will be available to provide expert commentary to local, national and international media covering the elections. The experts who will be available for interviews throughout the night include:

• Craig Allen, associate professor of journalism. Expertise: Campaign ads; historical trends in presidential elections.

• Aaron Brown, former CNN news anchor and the Walter Cronkite Professor of Journalism. Expertise: Presidential elections; media coverage.

• Robert B. Denhardt, Director of the School of Public Affairs and Lincoln Professor of Leadership and Ethics. Expertise: Leadership and presidential politics.

• Steve Elliott, former Associated Press Phoenix bureau chief and director of Cronkite News Service. Expertise: State and local races; state referendum issues.

• Dan Gillmor, Kauffman Professor of Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship director. Expertise: Online issues.

 • Andrew Leckey, director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism: Expertise: Impact of economy on campaigns and elections.

• Kelly McDonald, assistant professor in School of Letters and Sciences. Expertise: Presidential debates; national politics.

• Bruce Merrill, director of the Cronkite-Eight poll and one of the leading experts on Arizona politics. Expertise: National elections; Arizona politics; polling.

• Rick Rodriguez, Carnegie Professor of Journalism. Expertise: National politics; the Latino vote.

 “Having all of these experts in one place will provide easy access for reporters seeking to help put election night results into perspective for readers and viewers,” said Callahan, a former political correspondent for The Associated Press.  

Meanwhile, Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s award-winning evening newscast, will provide three hours of live election night coverage. The coverage, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., can be seen on KAET 8.3 (Cox Cable 88),  ASU-TV (Cox Cable 116), Tempe 11 and Mesa 11. More than 70 Cronkite students and faculty will be providing live coverage from Republican and Democratic headquarters in Phoenix and the national McCain-Palin headquarters.

 “Election night coverage is a right of passage for a young journalist,” said Cronkite School TV News Director Mark Lodato. “Our resources and coverage plan will give these students the ability to compete on the same stage as local, even national news outlets.” 

Cronkite News Service students will be providing special reports for ABC News,,, Dan Rather Reports and KSWT, the CBS affiliate in Yuma, plus daily newspapers and Web sites across the region.

 “Our growing list of media partners simply reaffirms the fact that the Cronkite School has become a trusted news outlet,” Lodato said.

The center of election night activities will be the First Amendment Forum, the two-story public meeting space that already has hosted viewings of the presidential and vice presidential debates and more than a dozen high-profile panels, forums and speeches since the building officially opened two months ago. Election night coverage begins at 5 p.m., Nov. 4.