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Cronkite School Welcomes First Ph.D. Class

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August 18, 2011

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University this week welcomed its first class of doctoral students in a program designed to transform communication professionals into media researchers and scholars.

Six mid-career professionals are enrolled in the new full-time, three-year program, the only Ph.D. program in journalism and mass communication in Arizona and one of the few in the region.

“Our program is unique because it caters to mid-career professionals who may be interested in changing their careers,” said Associate Professor Craig Allen, the program’s director. Allen, who worked for a decade as a TV reporter, assignment editor and news director before earning his Ph.D. and joining the Cronkite faculty in 1991, noted that many of his Cronkite School scholars have similar backgrounds – media scholars with extensive professional experiences.

“As former media professionals themselves, the Ph.D. teachers are especially attentive to helping professionals aspire to their next level of greatness,” said Allen, who is finishing his latest book, a study of Spanish-language TV news in the U.S.

Dean Christopher Callahan, who credits Professor Donald Godfrey for the program’s design and successful launch, said he expects Cronkite doctoral candidates to be in great demand at journalism schools around the country.

“The need for media researchers and scholars with deep professional experiences has never been greater,” Callahan said. “This new program will bring to ASU passionate and intellectually curious journalists and professional communicators who will be equipped with the scholarly tools to explore and help solve the most critical challenges facing a rapidly changing news media.”

The inaugural doctoral class includes former editors, reporters, news directors and public relations and marketing professionals.

Brian Rackham, who brings 25 years of experience as a news director and broadcast journalist, said he looks forward to the program and his career transition.

“After years as a working journalist and news manager, the Cronkite School has given me the opportunity to give something back to the profession through teaching and research,” Rackham said. “The faculty is world class, and I am excited to be mentored by some of the best journalists and scholars in the field.”

Information and applications are available at http://cronkite.asu.edu/phd.

The first-year cohort of the Cronkite School’s Ph.D. program includes:

Michael Bluhm has been teaching communication theory and journalism at the American University of Beirut since 2009. He has worked as a political reporter for The Daily Star in Beirut and a beat reporter for the Thibodaux Daily Comet in Louisiana. Bluhm earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Indiana University and his master’s in journalism from Charles University in Prague. At Cronkite, he plans to study the similarities and differences between television and the Internet and the broader implications of the new technologies emerging in the media field.

Elizabeth Candello earned her bachelor’s degree in history and her master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon. Candello has worked as an assistant account executive at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. Her public relations clients have included Microsoft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Dairy Trust Initiative and the Western Climate Initiative. She is interested in studying minority media construction as it relates to print and broadcast news as well as how campaigns play a part in the construction of societal roles for minorities.

Daniel Duerden earned his B.A. in international communications/journalism and his M.A. in mass communication from Brigham Young University in Hawaii. He has worked as an editor/proofreader at BYU in Provo, Utah, and editor-in-chief, layout artist and staff writer at Ke Alakai newspaper at BYU Hawaii. He also has taught as an adjunct professor in the communications department at Utah Valley University. Duerden speaks fluent Cambodian and plans to research new media and international culture.

Steven Garry has worked as an anchor and meteorologist for the CBS affiliate KPHO in Phoenix since 2006 and has held similar positions at other stations since 1994. He has taught public speaking classes for the ASU Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and Chandler-Gilbert Community College. He earned his B.A. in geography from California State University, Los Angeles, and his M.A. in communication from BYU.

Brian Rackham has 25 years of experience as a news director and broadcast journalist, most recently as a longtime news anchor/reporter for KTAR-FM. Having recently completed the Cronkite School’s mid-career master’s program, he plans to study the future of journalism.

Janice Sweeter earned her bachelor’s degree in communication at ASU and her master’s in public relations from Boston University. She has been senior editor for Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., director of advertising and public relations for Blue Cross Blue Shield AZ and director of advertising for the Arizona Office of Tourism and the Arizona Lottery. As a doctoral candidate, she intends to study how communications can benefit nonprofit organizations and the people they serve.