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Cronkite Launches Degrees in Digital Audiences

August 3, 2018


The Cronkite School has new degrees in digital audiences taught by faculty such as Jessica Pucci (left), director of digital audiences programs.


Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is now offering new online degrees as well as an on-campus innovative professional immersion program to help students launch careers focused on digital strategy, audience engagement and social media.

The new online degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Digital Audiences and a Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy. The Cronkite School also is offering an online graduate certificate in digital audience strategy as well as an online minor in digital audiences.

Additionally, the Cronkite School is launching the Digital Audiences Lab, in which students will create and execute digital strategies for real-world clients.

“The demand for professionals with digital audiences skills is growing rapidly,” Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan said. “These new programs will help students pursue cutting-edge careers in an array of industries that rely on digital audience engagement.”

The online degrees are taught by faculty comprised of top professionals and scholars in digital audience research and engagement. They are led by Digital Audiences Programs Director Jessica Pucci, the Ethics and Excellence Professor of Practice at the Cronkite School.

Pucci, an expert in content analysis and audience engagement, is joined by Assistant Professor Syed Ali Hussain, a Fulbright Scholar specializing in digital audience engagement, and Assistant Professor Jacob Nelson, whose research explores how to define, pursue and measure audience engagement.

Pucci said the degrees help students to design and execute large-scale audience strategies through a data-driven, multidisciplinary, hands-on curriculum.

“All businesses and organizations have audiences to build,” she said. “These degrees give students conceptual skills in social, search, analytics and strategy to grow and engage audiences, plus innovation and leadership skills that expand their career possibilities to roles in strategic and integrated communications, digital marketing and entrepreneurship.”

Interested students can apply now for any of the programs through ASU Online.

Starting this fall, graduate and undergraduate students on the ground at the Cronkite School can be a part of the Digital Audiences Lab, a first-of-its-kind professional immersion program, where students work with real clients to grow, engage and measure their audiences.

Students in the Digital Audiences Lab will work with ASU-affiliated organizations such as Slate’s FutureTense, Zócalo Public Square, GlobalSport Matters and Arizona PBS to help them grow audiences and measure digital performance.

Pucci, who served as the lead designer for lab, said the mission is to grow and engage audiences for these organizations through digital strategy development, search engine optimization, social media marketing and analytics reporting, among other areas.

The new lab is led by Luis Bonilla, who started this month as its founding director. Bonilla has more than a decade of digital marketing experience, most recently serving as the digital services architect for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. There, he led search engine optimization efforts, increasing website traffic and ticket sales.

“Luis brings unparalleled expertise and audience growth experiences to the table,” Pucci said. “At the Suns, he demonstrated measurable success he can harness to teach and inspire our students. We’re thrilled to welcome him to our school.”

Bonilla’s experience also includes work at leading digital marketing agencies, managing and executing SEO, pay-per-click advertising, social media and other initiatives.

“I am humbled and thrilled to lead Cronkite’s Digital Audiences Lab,” Bonilla said. “Students will have the opportunity to learn authentic and essential digital marketing abilities, and I believe their experience in the program will provide them with an attractive skill set as they become digital professionals.”

The Digital Audiences Lab is the latest addition to the Cronkite School’s professional immersion programs, experiences that distinguishes the school from other journalism programs. Students choose from more than a dozen programs, applying what they’ve learned in real-world environments.

Other professional programs include a nightly television news broadcast that airs on Arizona PBS, digital news bureaus in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles, a Spanish-language news bureau, sports reporting bureaus in Phoenix and Los Angeles, a strategic communications agency, an entrepreneurial digital innovation lab, a business reporting bureau and a digital production bureau.