Cronkite School excels in national competitions

April 25, 2007

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has been named first in the nation in the annual Hearst Journalism Awards, often called the Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism.

“The Hearst Awards are the gold standard for college journalism, and this year’s first-place finish in this extraordinarily competitive program is a testament to truly remarkable team of talented students and dedicated teachers,” says Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “We could not be more proud of them.” Download Full Image" alt="" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="300" height="255" align="right" />The school also claimed top awards from the National Press Photographers Association, the Broadcast Education Association and the Society of Professional Journalists for work done by students during the past year.

The Hearst Awards recognize the best broadcast news, writing and photography work done by students at more than 100 accredited journalism schools around the country.

Student work is judged by professional journalists.

Cronkite students Elias Johnson and Tatiana Hensley finished first nationally in television news reporting, and personality and profile writing, respectively. Thirteen other students placed in categories ranging from radio news reporting to sports writing and news photography. Top-ranking students receive scholarships and compete in national championships to be held in San Francisco in June.

This year’s victory in Hearst follows two straight second-place overall finishes by ASU and the third time in four years that broadcast students have finished first in the broadcast portion of the competition. For the past six years, ASU has finished in the top 10 overall. The University of Missouri and the University of Florida finished second and third, respectively, this year.

ASU also swept the first student awards given by the National Press

Photographers Association, a professional organization for still and television photographers. Johnson, who also was honored in the Hearst competition, finished first in the NPPA in-depth photojournalism category, and former student Ian Schwartz scored first and second in the weekly assignments category.

Schwartz, who graduated last May and now reports for WHOI-TV (ABC) in Peoria, Ill., also was named the nation’s best college TV news reporter by the Broadcast Education Association (BEA). It was the second year in a row that Schwartz won the award, and the first time that a student has won the award twice.

Schwartz and seven other Cronkite students dominated the reporting categories in this year’s BEA contest with eight awards. The next closest schools had three awards each.

Finally, Cronkite students swept five categories of the regional SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards, taking first, second and third places in online news reporting, TV news photography, TV feature photography, TV sports reporting and radio news reporting.

Students also took home first place in TV in-depth reporting, TV sports reporting, radio sports reporting, newspaper breaking news reporting and feature photography. The ASU Web Devil, the online branch of the State Press student newspaper, was named best student Web site, and the Cronkite Zine, an online publication featuring Cronkite School students’ work, was named best independent online student publication.

In total, Cronkite students brought home 35 awards in this year’s SPJ competition, more than any other school in the region, which includes Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam. The 17 first-place winners will move on to the national SPJ competition.

Training program graduates 100th student

April 18, 2007

Christine Chacon is the 100th student to complete the Child Welfare Training Project at the Tucson component of the ASU School of Social Work. The program is a collaborative partnership among ASU's School of Social Work, the Arizona State Department of Economic Security (DES) and Child Protective Services (CPS).

Launched in 1988, the program is funded by the Child Welfare Field Education and Student Support Project, a Title IV-E grant. The program prepares its graduates for careers that serve families in schools, hospitals, courts and community mental health settings, through coursework and internships in the DES, and in other public and private child welfare settings. Download Full Image

Chacon, who has worked as a case manager and as a CPS case aide, has always had the desire to work with at-risk children and families.

For more details about the program, visit the Web site">">

Crutchfield takes over as student media director

April 3, 2007

James N. Crutchfield, a former major newspaper publisher and editor, has been named ASU's director of student media. Additionally, Crutchfield was appointed to the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Crutchfield joined the Cronkite School this semester as the first Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics after spending the previous five years as publisher and president of the Akron Beacon Journal. He stepped down from that position last year following the sale of Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Crutchfield, 58, a four-time Pulitzer Prize juror, was one of the few African-Americans to serve as publisher of a major metropolitan daily newspaper. Download Full Image

In the new joint appointment, Crutchfield will oversee the student media department, which operates the following:

• The State Press, the university's independent student newspaper with a daily distribution of 17,000.

• The weekly State Press Magazine.

• ASU Web Devil, the online arm of the State Press.

• Channel 2, a cable station that airs on campus.

“We are extremely fortunate to have attracted the interest of Jim Crutchfield to student media,” says James Rund, vice president for university student initiatives, which oversees student media. “The expert skill set, industry experience and professional wisdom that Jim brings can position us as one of the best student media centers in the country.”

At the Cronkite School, Crutchfield will hold the rank of professor of practice and Weil Family Professor of Journalism. The endowed professorship is named in honor of Louis “Chip” Weil, the former publisher of the Arizona Republic and chairman and chief executive officer of Central Newspapers Inc.

Weil created the endowed professorship through a generous gift in an effort to support “outstanding faculty who will impact the country's future journalists.” He retired in 2000 after a career that also included publisher of Time magazine and the Detroit News.

Crutchfield will complete his one-semester term as the school's first Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics. He is teaching “Journalism Ethics and Diversity,” a new undergraduate course required of Cronkite students. The professorship was created in honor of Gaylord through a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, which she founded in 1982 to improve the quality and ethical standards of journalism.

“Jim Crutchfield has been a top leader and innovator in the news industry for many years, and he will do a spectacular job imparting Chip Weil's high journalistic values to the next generation of America's journalists,” says Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “Jim also will make the State Press, the Web Devil and Channel 2 incubators for great ideas and innovations that will help all of journalism.”

Crutchfield replaces Kristin Gilger at student media, who stepped down to become assistant dean for professional programs at the Cronkite School .

Crutchfield is a graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Spanish-speaking social workers in high demand

March 14, 2007

As the largest producer of social work graduates in Arizona, the ASU School of Social Work is responding directly to community needs for Spanish speaking social workers.

Consider these two scenarios: Download Full Image

• An elderly relative in your care needs community-based care.

• You are facing a serious disability.

These are difficult scenarios for anyone, but for those with language and cultural barriers, finding social workers who can help can be a tremendous challenge. For the growing numbers of Americans who speak Spanish at home and also are in need of mental health assistance, child and family welfare, aging and other complex services, access to caseworkers with appropriate language and cultural skills is increasingly difficult.

A national study, “Assuring the Sufficiency of a Frontline Workforce” (March 2006, National Association of Social Workers and the Center for Workforce Studies), found that 77 percent of licensed social workers in the United States serve at least some Hispanic or Latino clients. The same study's 2004 data show that, just as in most health care professions, social workers are not as diverse as the populations they serve. Fourteen percent of the U.S. population at the time of the study was Hispanic or Latino, and just 4 percent of the licensed social workers were Hispanic or Latino.

Social workers proficient in Spanish are further challenged by the professional terminology, cross-cultural factors, service delivery issues, context and principles specific to many bilingual or non-English-speaking Latinos. Arizona faces the added challenge of being one of four states nationally with the lowest ratio of social workers to population: 24 to 45 social workers per 100,000 residents (“Assuring the Sufficiency of a Frontline Workforce,” March 2006, National Association of Social Workers and the Center for Workforce Studies).

ASU's new Latino Cultural Competency Graduate Certificate in Social Work School of Social Work is responding directly to these needs. To be eligible for the certificate program, individuals must already be proficient in Spanish. The program is open to social work graduate students, professional social workers with a bachelor's or master's degree in social work or a related master's degree, and to individuals with an undergraduate degree and two years experience in the social service field.

In addition to courses on Latino populations of the Southwest, diversity, borderlands issues, financial and community asset building, and oppression, the certificate requires 480 hours of field experience with Latino clients. Faculty who developed the program note that the program will improve service delivery to Latino communities and clients, and also expand the employment potential of those who earn the certificate, since the demand for this expertise is critical in Arizona and other areas of the United States.

“In social work, forming professional helping relationships is central to what we do,” notes Mary Gillmore, director of the School of Social Work . “A commitment to understanding cultural values, behaviors, attitudes and practices is not new, but the certificate offers intense study and practice on the latest research and practice in this emerging area. It's a win-win for our communities and our graduates.”

“This innovative certificate focuses our faculty's research strengths in culturally grounded social work, including protective factors, immigration, health and financial disparities,” adds Barbara Robles, who manages the program out of the School's Office of Latino Projects. “Associate Professor Juan J. Paz Jr. and Josefina Ahumada of the school's Tucson component have been instrumental in leading this initiative, recognizing early on that these skills are in high demand in the social services sector.”

Luz Sarmina, president and chief executive officer of Valle Del Sol Inc. and an alumnus of the ASU School of Social Work notes, “Spanish-language skills are in daily demand – not just in Arizona, but across the United States . Building language and cultural competency in social work professionals is a key tactic for long-term success of community-based organizations such as ours. The certificate also aligns with Valle Del Sol's mission of building the next generation of Latino leaders. This is a very innovative program launch.”

Individuals interested in learning more about the certificate program, the school's course “Spanish for Native Speakers: Social Work in the Borderlands,” or the Study Abroad immersion experience planned for 2008, can contact Robles at (602) 496-0074 or (

President’s Professor: Jess Alberts

March 8, 2007

As a teacher, Jess Alberts' goal is to provoke her students to ask questions about the world around them. As a communications professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, her goal is to help them develop the skills to answer those questions.

“Once students understand how theories can help them explain, predict, and even improve, their lives, they become life-long learners – which should be the goal of all education,” says Alberts, who is among this year's recipients of the prestigious President's Professors Award. Download Full Image

For Alberts, becoming a communications professor wasn't an answer she came to immediately. While working toward her master's degree in English with the plan of becoming an English professor, she was hired as a lecturer by Texas A&M University , where she was also assigned a few communications classes to teach in addition to her English classes.

“I enjoyed teaching them so much, and the field was much more open than English, so I decided to pursue communication for my doctorate. And I am so glad I did,” says Alberts, who received her master's and bachelor's degree from Abilene Christian University and her doctorate from the University of Texas before accepting a faculty position as a communications professor at ASU in 1989.

Since then, she has served as director for the school from 1995 to 2004, has led a series of research studies that focus on conflict in relationships, has written and co-written textbooks and has developed new curriculum for her department. As departmental ombudsperson, she participated in undergraduate education by helping students resolve classroom issues and developing a two-week, intensive teacher-training orientation program that resulted in increased student satisfaction and improved teacher evaluations.

Her interests in communication issues are a driving force behind her research, which has examined everything from workplace bullying to community mediation to adolescent drug resistance to the act of flirting. Alberts also is developing a study that explains the division of household labor through social hierarchy theories.

Helping her students understand how tension between individual characteristics and societal forces influences human interaction was what prompted her to write an introductory textbook with two of her colleagues. Alberts asks her students to reflect on this concept through a service-learning project, which she has incorporated into all of the basic human communication courses. The project requires students to participate in a minimum of 10 hours of community service, reflecting on how the communication principles they have learned in class affect and are affected by their work in the community.

“Rarely do senior professors volunteer to teach large lecture sections of the basic course, receive consistently outstanding teacher evaluations from students, and do equally well in doctoral-level seminars,” says Bud Goodall, director of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. “Jess Alberts is that rare professor. This is because she is a gifted teacher who enlivens the classroom, makes every effort to connect with her students, and demonstrates her commitment to their success.”

Alberts' commitment to her students is evident not only in her frequent teaching of undergraduate classes, in addition to her graduate course load, but through her interactions with her students outside of the classroom. It is not unusual for students to go to her for coaching on job interviews and negotiations, as well as seeking advice on how to solve conflicts in their personal lives.

“I am constantly learning from my students about new and different perspectives, and about what it means to be young and a student in the current age,” Alberts says. “But I get much more than knowledge from them. They give me joy, they make me laugh, they cause me to feel heartache for their suffering – and they make me glad I am no longer in my 20s!”

As a self-proclaimed life-learner, Alberts says she hopes the information she offers her students will help them continue to learn throughout their lives.

“I hope my students learn to be more critical consumers of information, to learn how to learn, and to understand a bit more about the role of communication in relationships, organizations and identity.”

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU-Guanajuato pact assesses migration issues

March 2, 2007

For more than 100 years, the state of Guanajuato in the central highlands of Mexico has been a major point of departure for migrants. It continues to account for a disproportionately large share of the economic migrations of workers to the United States and Canada.

Researchers at ASU's Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC), in partnership with Mexican institutions, have developed a research partnership to better understand how different psychosocial, health and educational factors are associated with the decision that Guanajuato's youth make about migration. Download Full Image

Flavio Marsiglia, SIRC's director, Stephen Kulis, SIRC's director of research, and postdoctoral fellow Hilda Garcia Pérez were in León, Guanajuato, recently to sign an agreement with the Sistema Avanzado de Bachillerato y Educación Superior (SABES), the community-based secondary and post-secondary education system of the government of Guanajuato state.

The collaboration, “Guanajuato Youth and Family Health,” is a research project to develop and test interventions that identify and strengthen community, familial and individual factors that protect and prevent the onset of risk behaviors among some of the most vulnerable youths of Guanajuato.

SIRC will work with the Guanajuato Department of Education to identify and characterize protective and risk factors associated with the physical and mental health of individual youth ages 15-24. The findings will help evaluate whether or not these factors affect school retention, and whether migration aspirations of these students and their families' experiences of migration affect their commitment to school and graduation rates. The findings also will take a look at the students' health profiles, and will characterize the perceptions of students and families about health, education, work, migration and their communities.

“Efforts like this produce invaluable knowledge about the pervasive impact of migration for youths on both sides of the border,” Marsiglia says.

The SABES program was established by the Office of the Governor of Guanajuato as an auxiliary secondary education system to increase the availability and access of high school and college education for lower socioeconomic-status youths in rural and urban areas most affected by migrations northward. This high school system serves more than 20,500 students, or about 15 percent of all high school students across 38 of 45 counties in Guanajuato.

The centers included in the sample of the ASU-led study were randomly selected from across the state, controlling for the extent to which the communities are affected by migration. Information from more than 750 student surveys will be analyzed by the ASU team in collaboration with partners from SABES.

SIRC, established in 2004 through a National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Drug Abuse infrastructure grant, focuses its national and interdisciplinary drug abuse prevention research on improving service delivery, in addition to addressing health disparities of the historical communities of the Southwest.

20 graduate students earn fellowships

February 14, 2007

The Division of Graduate Studies has awarded 20 fellowships to graduate students in the arts, humanities, social sciences and education who will be completing doctoral degrees and master's degrees in fine arts this spring.

“It was very impressive to see the high quality of research that each of these students is pursuing,” says associate dean Andrew Webber. “These awards will go a long way toward helping them finish their work and graduate.”

The awards were made on the basis of demonstrated ability to complete research and projects of high quality, and to allow a semester of full-time effort for the student to complete a dissertation or project and a degree.

The students are: Tracy Longley-Cook, Damon McIntyre and Rachel Reisert from the School of Art; Victor Sampson, and Chanyoung Park from the Division of Curriculum and Instruction; Chen Chen Sun from the Department of English; Debra Neill, James Precht, Bard Baukol and Scott Stratton from the Department of History; Elvinet Wilson from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication; Kristen Hartnett and David Cheetham from the School of Human Evolution & Social Change; Helena Valenzuela, Barbara Gray (Kanatiiosh), Abu Mboka, and Michael Coyle from the School of Justice and Social Inquiry; Graciela Silva-Rodriguez from the Department of Languages and Literatures; Aimee Burke from the School of Social Work; and Marcella C. Gemelli from the School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Lisa Robbins

editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Professor advises international animal ethics center

January 19, 2007

Christina Risley-Curtiss, an associate professor at ASU's School of Social Work, is one of 100 academics from 10 countries selected as an adviser to the new Centre for Animal Ethics at the University of Oxford in England.

The center is an international, independent think tank that launched Nov. 27. It will focus on the advancement of progressive thought regarding animals. Download Full Image

In her role as co-principal investigator of the $1.2 million-dollar Child Welfare Education Project at ASU, Risley-Curtiss has conducted funded research, published articles and developed a social work course related to the animal-human bond. She also chairs a local coalition of human service and animal welfare organizations called the Humane LINK.

“I am honored to be part of this international effort,” she says. “I'm confident that the center's work will help elevate our collective dialogue on non-human animal ethics and reach deeply into higher education, and our civic and professional lives. My students, colleagues and funders have been responsive to efforts that explore the interrelatedness of humans and non-human animals, and to apply it to our field.

“Law enforcement, child welfare professionals and other social workers in our community have also been receptive to learning about and adapting their practice to the documented relationship between animal abuse and violence to humans.”

The Centre for Animal Ethics is the world's first academy dedicated to the enhancement of the ethical status of animals through academic publication, teaching and research. Academics worldwide from the sciences and the humanities will be eligible to join Nobel laureate in literature J.M. Coetzee as Fellows of the center. Other projects being pursued include research on the relationship between abuse to animals and to humans, an online course in animal ethics and the new Journal of Animal Ethics.

“The support of such a large number of internationally-recognized academics underlines just how important animals are as a moral issue,” says Andrew Linzey, an Oxford theologian and the center's first director. “Importantly, animals are now recognized as sentient beings in European law, and in the United Kingdom the most comprehensive – and long overdue – overhaul of animal welfare legislation for almost a century is shortly to be enacted into law.”

To learn about the center and its advisers and fellows, visit the Web site (">">


Study calls out workplace bullies

December 3, 2006

Bullies are something most people hope they leave behind on the childhood playground. Unfortunately, those bullies grow up, taking their abusive behavior to the workplace, where they can create war zones for their co-workers.

In a study published in Management Communication Quarterly, bullied employees explain their experiences in emotional language that illustrates the depth of their mistreatment. Download Full Image

Adult bullying at work can include a variety of tactics or negative acts including screaming, excessive criticism, spreading rumors, the “silent” treatment and exclusion from meetings and gatherings. It can be peer-to-peer or perpetrated by a supervisor. Similar to the playground variety, the bully leaves the victim feeling stressed, fearful and abused.

“Many people can tell you they know bullies at work – and many have been targeted themselves -– but few people truly understand the psychological and physical damage that results from these relationships,” says lead author Sarah Tracy, associate professor in ASU's Hugh Downs School of Communication. “It is very difficult for the targets of bullies to put into words their experiences, and when they do they are often seen as disgruntled employees or as being over-sensitive.”

In fact, 25 percent to 30 percent of U.S. employees are bullied and emotionally abused sometime during their work histories. This mistreatment can cost employers, as stressed employees are more likely to be ill, less productive and likely to quit. Perceptions and reports of unfair treatment also are precursors of workplace aggression, violence and sabotage.

Workplace bullying, by definition, is not explicitly connected to demographic markets such as sex or race. It also is noted by its duration and persistence. There are no legal sanctions in the United States , although there are in other countries, such as Canada .

Tracy, along with co-authors Jess Alberts, ASU professor of communication, and Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, an assistant professor of communication and journalism at the University of New Mexico , conducted the study to better understand how workplace bullying affects the targets, as well as the language used to express emotions and experience. What they learned could help managers better recognize, understand and stop these negative interactions.

“Identifying the effects of adult bullying is an important step in persuading organizational policy makers to pay attention to the phenomenon,” Alberts says. “As little research has been done on the emotional aspects of bullying, we set out to answer the question, ‘What does it feel like to be bullied?'”

The researchers have conducted a nationwide survey that examines the prevalence and practices of bullying and have interviewed more than 50 targets or witnesses of workplace bullying in a variety of industries, including service and sales, education and construction.

What they discovered is that the targets of bullies see themselves as vulnerable children, slaves, prisoners, animals and heartbroken lovers. Their defense tactics included trying to “tune out” the bully or “fly under the radar.” Many blamed themselves, wondering what they had done to bring the bullying on themselves.

“People often can't recognize the difference between a tough boss or a bully until they become the target,” Tracy says. “Co-workers, in fact, often blame the target for not speaking up. Our society sees victims as weak, so the focus is usually on getting rid of the weak employee than it is on getting rid of the bully. Bullies are often good at ‘managing up,' so the organization doesn't see the problem.”

Sharon Keeler