February 8, 2018

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a $1.9 million grant to Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to advance digital and broadcast innovation in local television news.

The three-year grant will help to promote innovation in local TV news that fosters informed and engaged communities in three ways: experiments in television news broadcast formats and digital storytelling; leadership program to promote digital transformation, and a digital hub that shares research and best practices.

Associate Dean Mark Lodato serves as news director of Cronkite News, the faculty-led, student-produced news division of Arizona PBS. Here, he talks the challenges that local TV broadcasts face and why the Cronkite School is the perfect incubator for the solutions of the future.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

The grant will support the creation of a program for local TV news leaders that will help provide them with effective change-management strategies and tools. News leaders will also identify specific newsroom experiments that they would like to see tested through Cronkite News, including experimentation in both English- and Spanish-language TV news. The Cronkite School will seek out and catalogue effective and engaging local TV news initiatives already taking place across the country, compiling the information into an accessible online resource.

“The need for game-changing innovative ideas in local television news has never been more critical,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS CEO. “This generous Knight Foundation support will allow television stations to beta test their ideas at the Cronkite School without the risks that often impede change and innovation in the media industry. We look forward this exciting initiative.”

Callahan said Knight Foundation has helped establish some of the school’s signature programs, providing more than $10 million in support. Knight-funded programs include Carnegie-Knight News21, a national fellowship program where top journalism students from across the country conduct national investigations into issues critical to Americans, and the Knight Chair in Journalism, a tenured professorship at Cronkite currently held by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sarah Cohen, who led the data journalism team at the New York Times.