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Cronkite School Takes Journalism on the Road

July 20, 2008
Anita Luera (center), director of high school programs for the Cronkite School, lets students experiment with cameras at Gallup Catholic High School near the Navajo reservation.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is hitting the road to bring journalism to high school students around the state.

The school recently equipped a hybrid SUV with the tools of journalism, including a television camera, microphones, audio recorders and backdrops, and is taking it to high schools in an attempt to get students interested in journalism. The program is funded by the ASU Foundation Women & Philanthropy and the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Anita Luera, who heads the Cronkite Institute for High School Programs, has taken the vehicle, which is wrapped in an eye-catching, full-color graphic depicting students with video cameras, computers and microphones, to a half-dozen schools in the past few months, including several on the Navajo reservation in northeast Arizona.

At St. Michael Indian School near Window Rock, Ariz., Luera talked about the need for minority journalists and explained opportunities at the Cronkite School. Then she gave the students a chance to practice in front of the camera, learn basic camera moves and watch their taped performances afterward.

Students at Window Rock High School on the Navajo reservation test their abilities as broadcast journalists under the guidance of Anita Luera (center), director of high school programs for the Cronkite School.

Luera said some students “are itching to get the microphone,” while others have to be coaxed to get in front of the camera.

Playing a video back usually elicits nervous laughter. Luera said she addresses students’ concerns about how they appear on camera by explaining that in the real television world, the tape would be edited down to the best sound bites from a three- or four-minute interview.

St. Michael journalism teacher Joan Levitt, who arranged for Luera to visit, said that many of her students have never thought about careers in journalism, and they’re intrigued by the idea.

“Journalism offers a wonderful opportunity to combine interest in the world around us with writing,” she said. “Plus, the advances in technology offer more choices for students in that field.”

The ASU Foundation Women & Philanthropy program funded the purchase of the vehicle. The program brings together women to support educational, research and public outreach missions.

The program also is funded in part by a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the corporate foundation of the E.W. Scripps Co. The Scripps Howard Foundation seeks to support quality journalism education while advancing the cause of free speech and promoting excellence in journalism.

To schedule a free visit to a school, contact Luera at 602.496.5477 or at anita.luera@asu.edu.