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Cronkite School, Arizona PBS Reach Borderlands Crowdfunding Campaign Goal

February 29, 2016

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication successfully completed a $50,000 crowdfunding initiative to help Cronkite News students expand coverage of border and immigration issues during this election year.

More than 130 supporters backed the Cronkite News Borderlands Initiative, meeting the 30-day campaign’s goal of $25,000. Beacon, an innovative crowdfunding platform that helps national news organizations and independent journalists raise funds for reporting projects, matched the donations, providing an additional $25,000. In all, the Cronkite School raised $50,433.

“We sincerely appreciate the tremendous support that we received for this innovative campaign,” said Cronkite School Innovation Chief Eric Newton, who spearheaded the initiative. “Our students in Cronkite News will now be able to expand coverage of immigration, security and other borderlands issues.”

The Cronkite School is the first journalism program in the nation to establish a major crowdfunding partnership with Beacon. Supporters included news organizations and professional journalists, Arizona PBS viewers, as well as Cronkite alumni and faculty.

Cronkite School’s Public Insight Network Bureau, an interactive hub designed to help news organizations strengthen community engagement, will analyze the results of the crowdfunding campaign with a $10,000 grant from the Institute for Nonprofit News, which also was used to promote the initiative. The PIN Bureau will explore opportunities for expanding coverage in newsrooms and journalism programs across the country.

The crowdfunding initiative is part of Cronkite News – Borderlands, where students cover border issues in English and Spanish under the guidance of two award-winning professional borderlands, journalists Alfredo Corchado and Angela Kocherga.

Cronkite News is the news division of Arizona PBS in which more than 120 students produces daily news content on TV and digital platforms for Arizona audiences under the direction of 15 full-time editors/professors. In the past month, Cronkite News students have covered Pope Francis’ visit to the border as well as a variety of other stories on security, the economy and the environment.

Launched in 2013, Beacon works with journalists and readers to fund important stories around the world. Journalists create crowdfunding pages on Beacon, detailing the reporting project, and readers decide whether to make a contribution. Crowdfunding is becoming an important revenue source for news organizations, particularly nonprofit newsrooms.

“Journalism’s going through a period of transition, and it's rewarding to work with leaders like the Cronkite School to figure out solutions like crowdfunding,” said Dan Fletcher, Beacon’s co-founder. “We're excited that more than 130 readers came together to support substantive reporting from the border, and we’re eager to see the journalism that their funding enables.”