Cronkite School students produce new primetime science series for Arizona PBS
A new generation of science journalists and storytellers from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is producing a high-quality science series for Arizona PBS that is smart and relatable and shows the university’s impact on the world.
And it's about to go prime time.
The show is “Catalyst,” a 13-episode program that explores current cutting-edge research at ASU. It is the creation of students at the Cronkite School as part of an innovative professional immersion program in which they create high-quality content that serves the public under the guidance of executive producer Steve Filmer.
“The show is longer-form storytelling, and that brings with it some satisfactions and some challenges,” said Filmer, a professor of practice at the Cronkite School and an award-winning television producer whose credits include “ABC World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America.” “Keeping a viewer interested for a longer stretch of time means it has to have more moments, more story arcs and more surprises. It also means there’s a demand on students’ imaginations.”
Trailer for "Catalyst"
The 30-minute show is the first non-breaking-news series that Cronkite School students are producing for Arizona PBS. Each episode features four to five segments, which attempt to demystify research by telling the stories of the people in the labs and out in the field, spotlighting their pursuit of groundbreaking discoveries. It will air every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Arizona PBS following “NOVA Wonders,” beginning April 25. Encore broadcasts will air Sundays at 2 p.m.
The first episode features ASU research on the development of an artificial tree that can reduce carbon dioxide as well as research advances in swarm intelligence in robots, which impacts technology such as driverless vehicles. The premiere also looks at how viruses can be used to combat diseases and how teams work under pressure using technology.
Cronkite Professor of Practice Vanessa Ruiz, the former co-lead anchor for 12 News, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, will handle hosting duties for the new series.
“The Cronkite School’s and Arizona State University’s commitment to innovation and, in this case, the wonders of science, is again evident through the creation of 'Catalyst,' ” said Ruiz, who reviews each script, reads introductions and anchors the show. “I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team behind this quality program, which will enrich and inform our viewers.” She added that she operates by example and her students have benefitted by watching her work under deadline pressure.
“Catalyst” is supported by ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development, which promotes interdisciplinary university research institutes and initiatives.