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Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is receiving one of the highest honors in journalism education for diversity and inclusion.
The Cronkite School is the recipient of the 2017 Equity & Diversity Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Established in 2009, the Equity & Diversity Award recognizes journalism and mass communication programs that have attained measurable success in increasing equity and diversity over a three-year span.
The award will be presented to the Cronkite School during the keynote session at the 100th AEJMC Conference in Chicago on Aug. 9.
The AEJMC selection committee said that equity and diversity “have become a way of life” at the Cronkite School. The committee noted that diversity is integral to the school’s teaching, research and service. “This has resulted in a broad definition of diversity that infuses student and faculty recruitment, curriculum design and content, outreach activities and student retention rate,” the committee said.
A recent onsite evaluation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications said the Cronkite School “is one of the nation’s great leaders in diversity and inclusion in journalism and mass communication.”
Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan said the school works hard to ensure that diversity is top of mind for all faculty and students.
“Diversity in all of its forms is a cornerstone of the Cronkite School because it is essential to quality journalism in order to fully, fairly and accurately inform increasingly diverse audiences,” Callahan said. “To be recognized by the AEJMC with this prestigious honor is a testament to our dedicated faculty, staff and leadership.”
Callahan said the school’s approach to diversity starts with outreach to high schools with underserved populations. Since 1988, the Cronkite School has hosted a summer high school journalism institute, a two-week residential program for students from underrepresented communities to get hands-on experiences in broadcast and digital journalism at no cost.
Diversity also is a cornerstone of the curriculum. All students take a course in ethics and diversity that challenges them to think about diversity as a critical component of ethical decision-making. Skills classes, ranging from reporting to editing, emphasize assignments that encourage students to go outside their comfort zones, and diversity lessons are spread throughout the curriculum.
In Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS, students report on underserved communities and multicultural issues through a nightly newscast that reaches 1.9 million households and a multiplatform website that reaches many more. Cronkite News also includes a borderlands bureau, where students report on important issues from the U.S.-Mexico border, and a Spanish-language bureau, where students produce broadcast and digital content in Spanish.
The Cronkite School recently launched Cronkite Noticias, a new digital Spanish-language platform for reporting on issues critical to Arizonans. As part of the immersion program, students produce a 30-minute news program, “Cronkite Noticias,” which airs on Unimas.
Callahan said the school has made significant strides in diversifying its student body. The percentage of minority students grew from 22 percent in 2003-2004 to nearly 40 percent this year. Additionally, he said the school has hired 15 new faculty members, more than half of whom are people of color and two-thirds of whom are women, over the past three years.
The school’s diversity and inclusion efforts extend into the journalism profession. The school is home to the National Center on Disability and Journalism, which provides guidance to journalists around the world as they cover disability issues and people with disabilities.
Cronkite also hosts the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation’s Media Sales Institute, a 10-day residential media sales program for recent college graduates. One of the key goals of the annual program is to improve the diversity of sales staffs in television and radio broadcasting.
Many of the Cronkite School’s 100-plus annual public events focus on diversity topics and include speakers from diverse backgrounds.
This is not the first time that the Cronkite School has been recognized for its diversity efforts. In 2012, the school was the recipient of ASU’s inaugural College Award for Contributions to Institutional Inclusion, a university-wide honor that recognizes college-level contributions to equity and inclusion. The award included a grant for a diversity scholar lecture series at the Cronkite School, which has featured such speakers as the late “PBS Newshour” anchor Gwen Ifill.
The AEJMC is a nonprofit organization of more than 3,700 educators, students and practitioners. Its mission is to promote the highest possible standards for journalism and mass communication education, to encourage the widest possible range of communication research, to encourage the implementation of a multicultural society in the classroom and curriculum, and to defend and maintain freedom of communication in an effort to achieve better professional practice, a better informed public, and wider human understanding.