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Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is making several key changes in faculty roles as the school continues to expand its programs and offerings.
The moves involve Cronkite News, the student-produced and faculty-led news division of Arizona PBS, and Elemental, a Corporation for Public Broadcasting-supported news collaborative dedicated to sustainability issues.
“As we start a new year, we are excited about the opportunities Elemental and Cronkite News will present for our outstanding students,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “These moves will help us continue to provide the very best news coverage on critical issues in our region and beyond.”
Melanie Asp Alvarez, a veteran news producer who had served as the assistant news director and executive producer of Cronkite News, is the new executive editor at Elemental. The collaborative, comprised of public television and radio stations in key western cities, produces multimedia reports on sustainability issues, including water, renewable energy, climate change and urbanization.
CPB awarded Arizona PBS, which is operated by the Cronkite School, a major grant in 2017 to be the home of the partnership with PBS SoCal and KPCC Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles, KJZZ radio in Phoenix, and Denver’s Rocky Mountain PBS, which includes five TV stations and KUVO radio.
Alvarez, who joined the Cronkite School in 2007, has played a central role in Cronkite News’ expansion into a national award-winning newscast, which airs nightly on Arizona PBS. Prior to joining the Cronkite School, she was an executive producer at the Phoenix CBS affiliate CBS 5 KPHO-TV. She also worked at television stations in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area in Florida.
Christy Bricks, the producer of the evening newscast at Phoenix NBC affiliate 12 News KPNX-TV, is taking over Alvarez’s position as executive producer for Cronkite News.
Bricks, who earned her master’s degree from the Cronkite School in 2010, is an eight-time Emmy Award winner. A veteran of the war in Iraq, she also has won a Thomas Jefferson Award for her reporting, which is the highest military broadcasting award in the Department of Defense.
In addition to her work as a military broadcaster for the U.S. Air Force, Bricks was a weekend producer and multimedia journalist for the CBS affiliate in Tucson, Arizona, KOLD-TV.
Bricks will work under the guidance of Christina Leonard, who earlier this year moved to the role of executive editor at Cronkite News after previously overseeing the Reynolds Business Reporting Bureau at Cronkite News.
Prior to joining the Cronkite School, Leonard was a reporter and editor at The Arizona Republic for 17 years. She held several leadership roles at the Republic and azcentral.com, including assistant business editor and editor-in-chief of two business magazines, Arizona Woman and bizAZ. She helped launch several newsroom initiatives, including a Diversity Committee and AZ Fact Check.
Additionally, Cronkite Senior Associate Dean Kristin Gilger was named the Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism.
Gilger, who has been part of the Cronkite leadership team since 2007, joined ASU in 2002 as director of student media, where she provided editorial guidance and oversaw business operations for the university’s daily student newspaper, The State Press.
Gilger, who will continue in her role as senior associate dean, has helped develop and lead a number of the school’s signature professional programs, including Carnegie-Knight News21, a groundbreaking initiative that brings top students from across the country to Cronkite to report on issues of national significance.
Her professorship is supported by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization headquartered in Las Vegas, which has supported numerous Cronkite School initiatives over the years, including an endowed chair in business journalism, two visiting professorships and the Reynolds Business Bureau at Cronkite News.
The Cronkite School also is the home of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for the Business of Journalism, which works to improve the quality of media coverage of business and the economy.