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Cronkite School Grows Leadership for Sports Journalism, Digital Media Programs

December 22, 2017

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is expanding its leadership team to keep up with the growing demand for educational opportunities in the fields of sports journalism and digital media.

Brett Kurland, Cronkite professor of practice and director of the Cronkite News Phoenix Sports Bureau, will now oversee all sports curriculum as director of sports programs. Cronkite Ethics and Excellence Professor of Practice Jessica Pucci, an expert in data analysis and audience engagement, will lead the expansion of the school’s online analytics and analysis curriculum as the director of digital audience programs.

In his new role, Kurland will continue to oversee the Cronkite News Phoenix Sports Bureau as well as cultivate partnerships with major sports media organizations. He also will manage the sports journalism bachelor’s and master’s programs launched in 2015. In addition, he will lead and grow the Cronkite School’s sports journalism camp offerings for high school students.

“It’s an exciting time to be at the Cronkite School,” said Kurland, who began teaching at Cronkite in 2012. “Our programs present so many wonderful opportunities for students. They can have their work published in The Arizona Republic, MLB.com and Sports Illustrated. The opportunities they get are incredible.”

As director of digital audience programs, Pucci will continue her role managing data analysis and audience engagement at Cronkite News, where she closely works with students to grow the award-winning news program’s online audience. In her new role, she also will further integrate audience engagement and measurement into the school’s curriculum.

Pucci recently spearheaded the creation of the school’s new digital audiences minor. The online minor teaches students the practical skills to identify, measure, engage with and grow digital audiences through digital content and social media strategies. In addition to the minor, she will work to develop new bachelor's and master’s programs in this area.

“Whether students have a passion for digital media, broadcast news or strategic communications, I want every student to leave Cronkite with an understanding of how to measure and reach audiences online,” said Pucci, who started at the Cronkite School in 2014. “I want to give this generation of journalists the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in today’s media jobs.”

Both Kurland and Pucci have made a significant impact at the Cronkite School. Kurland, an Emmy Award-winning sports producer, played a key role in leading Cronkite student reporting experiences at global sporting events, including the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.

Pucci, who directed brand journalism and social media engagement for large national companies, has expanded the Cronkite School’s focus on data analysis and audience engagement. She led more than 50 Cronkite students in managing and producing content for all of the official social media channels for the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four. She also oversaw the creation and implementation of Electionland at the Cronkite School, a first-of-its-kind election day social media project by ProPublica and Google that earned a 2017 Online Journalism Award.

“Jessica and Brett are at the forefront of providing innovative instruction in two of the fastest-growing areas in our field,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “Their enthusiasm and passion for our students is a testament to their success at the Cronkite School.”