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For a third consecutive year, two seniors from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication are contributing news coverage of the NCAA Final Four.
Cronkite Sports bureau reporters Braiden Bell and Chancellor Johnson will travel to Minneapolis in early April to produce multimedia content and support the NCAA’s digital media, marketing and promotional efforts during the annual men’s basketball tournament.
Johnson, a sports journalism major and African-American Studies minor, said he’ll primarily serve as a digital host, doing on-camera interviews for digital and social media platforms that collectively reach more than 130,000 users.
“There aren't many college students who get opportunities to cover an event like this, and we don't take it for granted,” Johnson said. “I'm thankful to the Cronkite School for not only helping to put us in a position for an opportunity like this, but to help us thrive in these roles.”
In 2017, Johnson and Bell were among more than 50 Cronkite students who were part of the Final Four Social Media Hub at the Cronkite School. The students produced and managed livestreams, photos, videos, 360-degree experiences and daily analytics reporting.
This year’s Final Four is Bell’s third. The sports journalism major, who has a minor in marketing, gained experience interviewing celebrities and former players and assisting with NCAA and Final Four promotions
“I’m honored to once again represent the Cronkite School at the Final Four,” Bell said. “This event has provided Chancellor and me with amazing opportunities, and I can’t wait to once again work at one of the biggest events in American sports.”
Johnson said the students’ roles continue to grow and evolve each year, which allows them to gain real-world experience while learning and applying a variety of skills
“We've had the amazing chance to produce digital content on each social media platform, interview NCAA legends and even conducting a live, on-camera segment on the video board inside the stadium during the championship game,” he said.
Since the Cronkite School announced new sports journalism degrees in 2014, students have covered major sporting events that include Super Bowl XLIX, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the 2016 College Football National Championship and multiple Final Fours. Students also regularly cover professional and intercollegiate sports from bureaus in Phoenix and Los Angeles, including Major League Baseball’s Cactus League spring training in Phoenix.
Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan said experiences such as these are part of Cronkite’s hands-on approach to learning – an approach bolstered by support from organizations such as the NCAA and the Final Four.
But the real stars, he said, are the students.
“Their hard work and persistence are on display every day,” he said. “We couldn’t be more proud of them."