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The Cronkite spring training program – covering the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners – launched as a pilot project last year with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its website JSOnline. Seven multimedia students, working under the direction of Greg Boeck, former national sports writer with USA Today, produced a new section of JSOnline with their coverage of the Brewers.
Marty Kaiser, senior vice president and editor of the Journal Sentinel, said the Cronkite team enhanced JSOnline’s coverage of the Brewers and provided new ways of looking at the spring training experience for readers.
“What the students brought to our website last year was tremendous,” Kaiser said. “It’s an exciting partnership, and it’s the kind of thing news organizations should be doing around the country.”
Following last year’s success with Milwaukee, the program expanded this spring to include 24 students producing multimedia content for the four news organizations.
Students are working under the direction of Boeck; Jose Romero, former Seattle Times sports reporter; and veteran photojournalist Roy Dabner. All are faculty associates at the Cronkite School.
“It’s an amazing experience for any student interested in a career in sports journalism,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Students are guided, mentored and inspired by three terrific journalists. They produce high-quality content in all of the different multimedia formats. And they have the same access to Major League Baseball players, coaches, fields and clubhouses as any fully credentialed journalist – an assignment traditionally available only to a select group of the very best veteran sports journalists in the country.”
The students, who were competitively selected, received all-access MLB press credentials. They will cover 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 (Padres and Mariners) – as well as road games across the Valley.
Fifteen MLB teams are now part of Cactus League spring training.
The students – who spent the last four weeks in intensive classroom teaching and research immersion about the teams – will spend two to three full days each week producing multimedia news and feature content. Each ballclub will be covered by a team of six students through the end of spring training.
Cronkite graduate Jordan Johnson, who covered Brewers spring training last year, said the program gave students the opportunity to get out of the classroom and gain real-world experience right away.
“We got to do a little bit of everything,” said Johnson, who now works at azcentral.com, The Arizona Republic’s website, as a social media producer. “We got a chance to interact with professionals, which you don’t get in the classroom.”
The spring training reporting course is among the innovative professional programs at the Cronkite School. Other programs 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 broadcast across the state by Eight, Arizona PBS; the Multimedia Reporting Project, in which students report breaking news for azcentral.com; and News21, which produces in-depth multimedia packages that have been featured by The Washington Post and msnbc.com.