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New Clubs at Cronkite add student opportunities

January 27, 2011

Two new journalism clubs at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University will advance opportunities for students interested in African-American media issues or expanding their photojournalism skills.

Cronkite students have established student chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Press Photographers Association.

“We’re so proud of our Cronkite student leaders for taking the initiative to start these important clubs at ASU,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan, who brought the headquarters of NABJ to the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, where he was associate dean from 1998 to 2005.

The NABJ club at ASU was founded by junior Heather Jackson, who serves as president. She and another student had reached out to Retha Hill, director of the Cronkite School’s New Media Innovation Lab and a former vice president at BET, for support in starting the club.

“Over the decades, NABJ has been such a supportive network of journalists of color who help each other be the best they can be. So many successful journalists got their start in student chapters of the organization,” Hill said. “Having a student chapter of NABJ at the Cronkite School will provide Cronkite students with countless opportunities and mentors who have been where they are now and can help guide them to where they want to go with their careers.”

Jackson said the group, which is open to students regardless of race, will afford students both social and professional opportunities and enable members to help each other advance in their careers.

“It’s something really, really close to my heart,” said Jackson. “I know that advancement in the newsroom is a necessity.”

So far the group has 12 members. Planned activities include a mentorship workshop; attendance at NABJ’s national convention, where students can interact with student and pro members; and resume and professional development workshops. The group also sees giving back to the community as a big part of its mission.

“We really plan on being an integral part of Cronkite,” Jackson said.

For its part, the photojournalism club already has 18 members and 50 people on its Facebook page.

Cronkite School freshman Jacob Stein, president of the NPPA group at ASU, said that in forming the club he and his peers hoped to promote the expansion of visual journalism opportunities for students at Cronkite.

“It’s really an exciting thing for Cronkite because so many students have expressed their passions for photography, visual journalism,” Stein said, adding that the club could show “the power an image has to communicate to the public.”

The organization enables students to hear from working and retired photojournalism professionals.

The group plans to coordinate critiques and workshops designed to help students network and gain visibility and possibly create a publication showcasing student work.

“The formation of this chapter was entirely student-driven, and it’s an indication of the growing interest among students in visual journalism,” said Associate Dean Kristin Gilger, who is the faculty adviser for the group.

The student chapters of NABJ and NPPA are among multiple student journalism clubs at Cronkite. Others clubs with Cronkite student chapters are the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Public Relations Student Society of America and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.