Cronkite Summer Camps Make Virtual Return

Tuesday, June 22


By Nicholas Hodell

Summer camps for high school students hosted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University have returned to action this year after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of all three programs last year.

The camps are being conducted virtually through Zoom, a departure from the typical in-person experience that accompanied the camps pre-pandemic.

The Summer Journalism Institute is a selective program that gives students hands-on experience in broadcast and digital journalism. Participants produced newscasts and a variety of multimedia content during the camp, which took place from June 6 to June 18.

The High School Media Innovation Camp, which is ongoing until July 2, is focused on using new technology in journalism. Students experiment with various forms of technology, including augmented and virtual reality as well as the Unity game engine.

The Sports Broadcast Boot Camp, which will take place from July 5 to 16, is a camp exclusively for sports journalism students. Students gain experience in producing sports broadcast packages as well as learn tips on writing and play-by-play broadcasting.

Paola Boivin, director of the Sports Broadcast Boot Camp, said she is very excited for the camp to return after last year’s absence.

“It was really hard not to have that interaction with students last year during the summer,” Boivin said. “It really left a void over the summer.”

Retha Hill, director of the High School Media Innovation Camp, said this year’s camp being done virtually means she can do things that had not been done in the three previous years of the camp.

“Being able to bring in speakers from other cities is one of the good things about being virtual,” Hill said. “We’ve got Ray Soto who is director of Emerging Technology at the USA Today Network; alum Jayson Chesler, who is currently working in Los Angeles, but who wrote a guide on ethics and immersive media; and Juli James who runs a series news game company and will be zooming in from the Dallas area.

Two of Cronkite’s summer programs are fully funded for participants thanks to generous donations. The Summer Journalism Institute is paid for by the Arizona Broadcasters Association, Tom Chauncey and RIESTER. The High School Media Innovation Camp is paid for by the Arizona Republic’s Media in Education Program.

Brett Kurland, the Cronkite School’s director of strategic initiatives and sports programs, is overseeing all three camps this summer. Kurland said he took part in similar programs as a high school student himself and knows first-hand the value of these experiences.

Kurland said the two programs that are fully funded via donations allow the Cronkite School to include students who may not have the chance to attend such camps.

“It’s opening doors,” Kurland said. “ We are so fortunate to have these incredible donors supporting our camps, enabling us to bring students into these programs, introducing them to journalism, to Cronkite, to ASU, and helping them find a path.”

He said this year’s campers can look forward to excellent content with experienced faculty and professional journalists.

“The camps offer wonderful education on the fundamentals of journalism, of media and technology and of sports journalism,” Kurland said. “Incredible education from across our journalism faculty at Cronkite, experts around the industry, and from visits with newsrooms and newsmakers. Big picture, it’s about igniting and cultivating the passion for journalism in all of its forms.”