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New Grant Brings Journalism Innovation Opportunities for Cronkite Students

March 14, 2016

One hundred years after the birth of the late Edith Kinney Gaylord, a journalism pioneer and philanthropist, the foundation she established is finding new ways to invest in journalism’s future.

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation has awarded Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication an $800,000 grant for students to learn and experience news innovation and to spread new ideas across journalism.

The new grant funds the Edith Kinney Gaylord News Innovation Initiative at the Cronkite School. The program will serve as the innovation hub for Cronkite News at Arizona PBS, a multiplatform daily news division operated by the Cronkite School with 15 full-time editor/professors and more than 120 ASU students who produce daily news content on TV and digital platforms for Arizona audiences.

The Gaylord Initiative also brings new courses in journalism innovation and entrepreneurship at Cronkite, as well as a new professor of practice in data analytics and audience engagement.

Jessica Pucci, who directed brand journalism, social media and audience engagement at the communications agency Manifest, will direct social media and analytics for Cronkite News. Pucci also will teach a course in analytics and engagement this fall.

As part of the initiative, Cronkite will work closely with the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is named in honor of the Gaylord family, the former longtime publishers of The Oklahoman newspaper and the founders of Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

“We are excited to partner with Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism for the News Innovation Initiative,” said Bob Ross, EEJF president and CEO.  “This grant will allow them to continue providing a world-class journalism education utilizing the teaching hospital model approach, and also form a stronger partnership with University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism under Dean Ed Kelley.”

Gaylord College students will participate in classes via video conference. Gaylord Initiative professors at Cronkite also will make regular visits to the University of Oklahoma to speak with classes and meet with faculty.

“Being able to collaborate with the Cronkite School will be of great benefit to our students, and a lot of fun as well,” Kelley said. “We are so grateful to Ethics and Excellence for its vision and willingness to invest in two journalism programs that want to help find innovative ways to ensure journalism has a bright and meaningful future.”

In addition to Pucci, the Gaylord Initiative includes other key Cronkite faculty members such as Eric Newton, the school’s first innovation chief, who led journalism initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for more than a decade.

According to Cronkite School Dean and Arizona PBS CEO Christopher Callahan, the Gaylord Initiative  fosters digital news experimentation, exploring new ways of storytelling and bold experiments in audience engagement.

“We are in the midst of one of the most exciting and tumultuous times in the history of American journalism, with the digital revolution disrupting economic models that stood for generations,” Callahan said. “The key to solving this challenge is to innovate. Thanks to the generous support of Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, we will be able to develop the next generation of journalists at two forward-looking journalism schools to be innovators.”

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation also awarded the Cronkite School a $150,000 grant over three years to continue hosting an Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics. The visiting professorship annually brings a journalism leader to Cronkite to teach ethics and diversity.  Past visiting professors have included Peter Bhatia, the current editor and vice president for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sandra Mims Rowe, the former editor of The Oregonian newspaper, and Caesar Andrews, the former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press.

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was founded by Edith Kinney Gaylord, the daughter of Daily Oklahoman Publisher E.K. Gaylord. Ms. Gaylord created Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in 1982 to improve the quality of journalism by supporting research and creative projects that promote excellence and foster high ethical standards in journalism.