Journalism school's spring training reporting program expands
Students from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication spent the past six weeks covering Major League Baseball teams for major media outlets as part of the school’s expanding sports-journalism program.
For the third year Cronkite Students are covering MLB spring training for nationwide professional media outlets as part of a multimedia sports reporting class. This year, students are producing content for MLB.com, in addition to previous partners Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, San Diego Union-Tribune and The Arizona Republic.
Students are producing news, feature and enterprise stories, photos, videos and blogs for the publishing partners' websites covering the Milwaukee Brewers, the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Cronkite School spring training class launched as a pilot project in 2011 with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its website, JSOnline, under the direction of former USA Today national sports writer Greg Boeck. This year the students also worked with Brett Kurland, a former associate producer at Fox Sports Net. Both are faculty associates at the Cronkite School.
Martin Kaiser, senior vice president and editor of the Journal Sentinel, said the program is going better than ever.
"Every year that we work with Arizona State it gets better," Kaiser said. "The kind of content, the photos, the video and stories are the kinds of things that go beyond what our baseball writers are doing. It's a different look at spring training and what happens at spring training and gives our readers something special that they wouldn't have otherwise."
Boeck echoed Kaiser's assessment, and said the addition of MLB.com as a publishing partner is giving the students even more opportunities and exposure.
"It's getting better every year," Boeck said. "Dean (Christopher) Callahan keeps adding different teams, and to reach MLB.com is a huge stride forward."
Boeck said the students' work has the potential to be seen by millions of readers via the newspapers' websites, MLB.com, and USAToday.com, which links to select stories.
"All of our (content) is being posted and getting some very wide coverage," he said. "It's unprecedented what we're doing this year."
Kurland said the experience would help students be competitive candidates for jobs upon graduation.
"This is a terrific opportunity for the students to get out of the classroom and into the press rooms of Major League Baseball and apply all of the skills they've learned thus far at Cronkite," Kurland said. "Both what they experience and the portfolio of content they produce will put them in prime position for success as they enter the workforce after graduation.”
The students, who were competitively selected to take the class, received all-access MLB press credentials. They covered training and games at the teams' home fields – Salt River Fields in Scottsdale (Diamondbacks), Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix (Brewers) and Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria (San Diego Padres) – as well as road games across the Valley.
Cronkite student Hayden Harrison said covering spring training was a great, hands-on experience. To her, the most exciting part was "getting to be at the baseball field every day and getting to be close to the field, close to the players and do stories that revolve around baseball," Harrison said. "It's a pretty exciting opportunity."
The students, who spent four weeks in intensive classroom teaching and immersion in research about the teams, and spent two to three full days each week producing multimedia news and feature content.
Cronkite graduate Amber Harding, who covered the San Diego Padres in 2012, said it was the best experience she had at Cronkite and one that helped her land a job as MLB.com’s Diamondbacks Real-Time Correspondent. In that role she uses many of the skills she honed during the spring training class, including creating videos, photo and text content for all of MLB’s social media platforms.
"It gave me a chance to do what I love in a real-world, professional environment," Harding said. "I was credentialed for a major newspaper – The San Diego Union-Tribune – and all of my work was published on the website. I went to the ballpark early every morning, worked on deadline and produced daily content. It was a lot of work, but it taught me to report and edit more efficiently. Plus, I walked away with a ton of great video clips that helped me to get my current job."
The spring training course is one of many hands-on, immersive experiences offered at the Cronkite School. Others include Cronkite News Service, in which students produce multimedia news packages for newspapers, TV stations and news websites across Arizona from news bureaus in Phoenix and Washington, D.C.; Cronkite NewsWatch, a 30-minute nightly newscast broadcast across the state by Arizona PBS; and Carnegie-Knight News21, which produces in-depth multimedia packages that have been featured by The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer and NBCNews.com.