DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Arizona PBS Moves to Cronkite School, Becomes ‘Teaching Hospital’ and Innovation Hub
Arizona PBS, the 53-year-old public television station based at Arizona State University with more than 1 million viewers, will become part of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, continuing to provide quality PBS programming while serving as a national hub for news innovation and reinvention, the university announced Thursday.
Eight, which includes three TV channels and azpbs.org, will be the largest media organization operated by a journalism school in the world when the move becomes official next Tuesday. The station had been part of ASU’s Office of Public Affairs.
“Eight has served Arizonans for more than 50 years, providing important national and regional content in public affairs, education, the arts, science and culture across our state,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “That critical mission will continue and we will redouble our efforts to make Arizona PBS the best public television enterprise in the nation featuring all of the outstanding PBS programming now available on Eight.”
Under Cronkite, Arizona PBS also will serve as a journalistic “teaching hospital,” tapping into the talents of advanced students in journalism and other disciplines who work under the guidance of top professionals from the ASU faculty and Eight staff to provide rich, new and innovative broadcast and digital content.
A leading journalism school joining forces with one of the nation’s largest PBS stations at a university known globally for its leadership in innovation is a powerful and potentially game-changing combination,” the ASU president said. “We will be able to serve Arizonans on new levels while providing a national testing ground for new approaches to digital storytelling, audience engagement and revenue models to help serve a news industry that needs to rapidly adapt in the fast-changing digital world.”
Since ASU made the school a free-standing college in 2005, Cronkite has been at the vanguard of a movement in journalism education to create highly immersive, professional programs in which students create journalism products under the guidance of top professionals recruited onto the faculty from some of the nation’s leading newsrooms. Harvard University documented Cronkite’s leadership role earlier this month in Nieman Reports.
Like a teaching hospital in medical education, these immersive professional programs provide intensive learning environments for students, important services to the community and the ability to experiment and innovate. In this case, the community service is providing critically needed, in-depth journalistic content to readers and viewers.
“We have called this a ‘teaching hospital’ approach to journalism education, but until now, we haven’t had the hospital,” said Cronkite Dean and University Vice Provost Christopher Callahan. “Now we do – a multiplatform media organization in one of the nation’s largest media markets.”
Cronkite leaders will spend the next few months designing the new enterprise, starting with combining the school’s immersive professional programs with Arizona PBS.
An expanded version of the school’s TV newscast, Cronkite NewsWatch, which covers public policy news around the state, will give Arizona PBS one of the nation’s only daily local PBS newscasts. A new study by the Radio Television DigitalNews Association found that only 16 of the nation’s 170 PBS stations have some kind of daily local public affairs programming. And most of those are not newscasts but public affairs interview shows, such as Eight’s award-winning “Arizona Horizon.”
Some of the other established Cronkite professional programs that will become part of Arizona PBS include multiplatform daily news bureaus in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles, which provide news coverage to professional media outlets across the region; an innovation lab that creates new digital media products for clients; the community engagement Public Insight Network Bureau that serves news organizations nationally; and the Carnegie-Knight News21 investigative multimedia initiative whose publishing partners include The Washington Post and NBCnews.com.
Cronkite plans to add new immersion programs in business reporting and sports within the next six months and will look to other disciplines across the university to create other professional programs within Arizona PBS.
“As a veteran newsman now on the Cronkite faculty who has been immersed in the reconstruction of American journalism, I could not be more excited,” said Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of The Washington Post who helps lead the News21 program. “This is a very important development, not just for journalism education and the development of outstanding journalists for tomorrow, but also for the transformation of the news media in the digital age.
“The future of news depends on the kind of ‘teaching hospital’ innovation and training that the creative combination of the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS will make possible,” Downie said. “At the same time, it promises to provide residents of the Phoenix area and much of the rest of Arizona with significant public service journalism in a university-based non-profit model that could serve as a blueprint for universities and public broadcasting stations everywhere.”
ASU also hopes other media organizations will bring their ideas to Cronkite to experiment on the Arizona PBS platforms.
“There remains a tremendous need for reinvention and disruptive innovation in today’s news industry,” Callahan said. “Our Arizona PBS initiative can provide a place where commercial news operations can try out their ideas.”
Kelly McCullough, a Cronkite alumnus and general manager of Arizona PBS, said histeam is excited about Eight becoming a more integrated part of the university while continuing to serve Arizonans at the highest levels.
“We will continue to proudly bring Arizonans all of the quality programming they want and deserve,” McCullough said. “And now, as part of the Cronkite School, we will be able to develop new local content to complement our current signature PBS programs — everything from ‘Arizona Horizon’ and ‘Horizonte’ to ‘PBS NewsHour,’ ‘NOVA’ and ‘Downton Abbey.’”
Arizona PBS reaches nearly 1.9 million households and 4.8 million people across 80 percent of the state. Located in the 12th largest media market in the U.S., it has more than 1 million weekly viewers and the fourth-highest prime-time viewership per capita among the nation’s major market PBS stations. Eight also has the second-largest viewership of the 57 university-operated PBS stations.
Photo Courtesy of Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Downtown Phoenix is home to Arizona School for the Arts (ASA), a unique campus where the performing arts are deeply infused into an academically rigorous curriculum. Next week, on the evenings of May 28 and 29, the ASA Showcase 2014 at the Orpheum Theatre offers a special opportunity for the public to sample the range of student talent.
Leah Fregulia Roberts helped found ASA in 1995; she started as a curriculum specialist and English teacher and worked her way up to her current position as Head of School.
“This is a dual program,” says Roberts, describing ASA’s mission as a college preparatory and performing arts school with top-ranked academic programs. English, social studies, math and science form a required core program beginning in the 5th grade. “Middle school students have to take a fifth academic class split between piano for half the time and what we call ‘life skills,’ which is really academic skills, college planning, et cetera for half the period.”
“High school has the same academic core,” she continues, “but they replace piano and life skills class with foreign language. …So they’re getting the most rigorous programs that all college prep kids are getting — the only difference is that their additional programs all center around the performing arts.”
Since ASA students must take piano and choir classes through the 8th grade, says Roberts, “Music is really the foundation.” Older students can choose to focus on an instrument, choir, dance, or theater arts, but those core programs remain equally important.
“I know we have a reputation for the arts,” says faculty member Johnathan Robinson, “but the academics are actually very, very good and strenuous as well.” Robinson is pursuing his doctorate in clarinet performance at Arizona State University, and he’s taught single reed and bassoon studies at ASA since 2011.
“I’m always amazed by the kids because they’re very articulate,” he says. “They get the best of both worlds…public speaking and performance…it transfers over into the music as well. The academics definitely help the arts.”
Robinson believes the nurturing atmosphere of ASA sets the school apart. “It’s the culture,” he explains. “It’s a very communal-type base where everyone knows everyone, so we’re all very supportive of each other, and I think the students benefit the most from that.”
Despite ASA’s reputation for elite arts and academics, cutthroat behavior isn’t a problem, says Robinson. “It’s never a super-competitive environment — all the kids applaud for each other after all their tests…I guess they realize where their strengths lie, and what they need to work on to fix it…. I think that…speaks to the culture itself, that we’re very accepting of what we can and can’t do.”
ASA students also enjoy the benefits of partnerships with numerous other arts organizations like the Musical Instrument Museum and Phoenix Chamber Music Society, says Head of School Roberts. “That’s the special sauce on top of a really great arts program,” she says with a smile. “They get exposure to all these other artists…and performances across the Valley.” In this past season, for example, ASA students appeared as the children’s chorus in Arizona Opera’s production of La Bohème.
Graduating senior Max Beckman looks forward to jazz studies in upright bass performance at ASU, but he’s already spent a semester in a combo with Scottsdale Community College, and he plays in a community band with Young Sounds of Arizona.
“I’m very active outside of ASA,” Beckman says. “I have two regular gigs, one at Carly’s Bistro…and one at Copper Star Coffee.” He’s attended ASA since the 5th grade. “I like…the freedom that you have to build your own arts curriculum,” he adds. “I’m choosing to go on with my art forms…I think I was pretty lucky because of that.” At school Beckman participates in Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Combo, and Symphony Orchestra, as well as serving as a teacher’s assistant with low strings.
On May 28 and 29, he’ll play with all three ensembles in ASA’s Showcase 2014 concerts at the Orpheum Theatre, the school’s annual end-of-year production. “We’re playing a pretty cool orchestra piece — it’s called The Firebird Suite [by Igor Stravinsky],” Beckman says, “…and then the jazz combo is playing some cool jazz and hard bop tunes, like Blue Rondo à la Turk and St. Thomas.”
“It’s the opportunity for the students to showcase their arts achievements for the year and for us to really highlight what’s been going on in our programs,” says Roberts, “and it’s also one of the few times…when we get to integrate the arts amongst one another…whether it’s in the massed choir or one of the bigger bands or the combined orchestras; the entire ballet program performs, so it’s every student on the stage.”
“There’s always a theme,” she continues. “This year [it’s] the four elements: earth, water, fire and air, so all selections will embody one of those elements in some way.” Roberts sees the elements as analogies for ASA’s “essential building blocks” of academic quality, arts quality, a culture of safety and excellence, and community partnerships. Although the students perform regularly throughout the year, Showcase is “the big fundraising performance of the year,” Roberts adds.
Each night features a different program, but both evenings will include an ASA Theater Department production of Bertolt Brecht’s 1944 play The Caucasian Chalk Circle along with ballet performances set to excerpts from Handel’s Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. Wednesday, May 28 offers a piano arrangement of Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries,” and Thursday night includes orchestral performances of Tchaikovsky’s popular waltz from The Sleeping Beauty and Manuel de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance.”
“It’s kind of…a kaleidoscope of everything that we do throughout the year,” describes faculty member Robinson. “You get a tasting of every arts area that we have to offer…it’s like the best of the best.” ASA students finished their final exams on May 21, leaving them free to focus on Showcase rehearsals.
Olivia Freeman, an ASA graduating senior and saxophonist who plans to attend Chicago’s DePaul University, is currently sitting first chair in Wind Ensemble. “We’re playing Vesuvius [Thursday night],” she says, “…a very interesting piece and very intricate — there’s a lot of little melody lines within the bigger piece.”
Freeman entered ASA from the public school system. “There was a huge difference,” she says. “When I came to ASA I was asked to analyze…my thought process. It was basically asking me to think in a whole new different way, so that was obviously a tough transition at first, but now I think it’s helped me in the long run through problem-solving….” She adds, “I’ve learned how to work in a group successfully.”
Head of School Roberts points out that, although the waiting list for ASA can be quite lengthy after the 5th grade enrollment, openings for new students often become available between the 8th and 9th grades. “Sometimes…people forget to take another look at us in high school,” she says. Showcase 2014 is a great opportunity to see ASA’s students in action.
All photos courtesy Arizona School for the Arts.
If you go:
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams:
When: Two different programs are scheduled:
- Pre-show — ASA Jazz Combo performs outside each night at 6:15 p.m.
- Concert: Wednesday, May 28, 7 p.m.
- Concert: Thursday, May 29, 7 p.m.
Tickets: Purchase tickets here. Tickets are $55/$40/$25, with proceeds benefiting ASA
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
University of Arizona, Phoenix Announce New Downtown Project
Biosciences Partnership Building on Docket Pending Regents Approval
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and the City of Phoenix announced Thursday plans to construct a 10-story, 245,000-square-foot research building, pending approval from the Arizona Board of Regents in June.
The Regents are scheduled to vote on June 6 on the Biosciences Partnership Building, which would be built immediately north of the Health Sciences Education Building near 7thStreet and Fillmore in downtown Phoenix.
“This is an investment by the taxpayers,” said Ann Weaver Hart, president of the University of Arizona. “It is also part of the vision in our state to grow our economy and create the kind of jobs that will keep our graduates in Arizona.”
Under plans going to the Arizona Board of Regents, ground would be broken on the $136 million building by the end of 2014, taking about 26 months to complete. It would translate into nearly 500 jobs in design and construction and another 360 permanent jobs at buildout.
“The new biosciences building continues the progress we’ve made with the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and it’s just another way the University of Arizona is helping to creating a better quality of life and economy in our community,” said Mayor Greg Stanton.
Plans are for the university to pursue expanded partnerships with industry, multi-disciplinary collaborations with its Phoenix partners.
“This is an important addition to downtown Phoenix and the progress we are making,” said District 8 Councilwoman Kate Gallego. “In addition to an economic effect, the groundbreaking research that will occur in this building will improve the lives of us all.”
The building would continue the steady expansion of the downtown Phoenix academic medical center after the 2012 completion of the award-winning education building and the ongoing construction of the University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health’s St. Joseph’s. The cancer center, a 220,000-square foot outpatient and research facility, is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015.
The funding for the building comes from the Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development bonds approved by the legislature in 2008 that paid for construction of the Health Sciences Education Building and related campus improvements. The construction of this second research building was approved by the Arizona Legislature’s Joint Committee on Capital Review at the same time as the Health Sciences Education Building in 2010. However, the state board of regents still must review the project and is scheduled to do so at its June 6 meeting in Flagstaff.
“This is an exciting step in building this academic medical center in Greater Phoenix,” President Hart said. “This is the final step of approval for the remainder of the SPEED bonds that have built research infrastructure across the state.”
Research focus areas include neurosciences, healthcare outcomes, cancer and precision medicine.
“Researchers will be looking for answers to most daunting questions in health care,” President Hart said. “All of this important work will have a major effect on our state – bigger breakthroughs and better health outcomes for all Arizonans.”
The Translational Genomics Research Institute is also part of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.
Images courtesy of The University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
Arizona State University is building a new Arizona Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix on the block between Polk and Taylor and First and Second Streets.
With Phoenix’s City Council approving $12 million from the Community Reinvestment Fund to help finance ASU’s project, last December Mayor Greg Stanton joined ASU President Michael M. Crow to announce the Center’s intended 260,000-square-foot layout.
Crow and Stanton described a $129 million, six-story complex with two levels of underground parking, reserving 25% of the city block for the option of future development. Facilities will include not only the ASU College of Law but also a public law library and civic outreach center, a bookstore, a café, a “Great Hall,” and offices for the ASU Alumni Law Group, a non-profit, privately financed teaching law firm.
Members of the downtown Phoenix community expressed concern over seven proposed variances. In response, ASU organized public forums with participants from the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, the Thunderdome Neighborhood Association for NonAuto Mobility, and the Roosevelt Action Alliance. One meeting brought together Downtown Voices Coalition with representatives from the city, ASU, and the two design firms involved with this project (New York’s Ennead Architects and Phoenix’s Jones Studio). Discussion covered the project’s compatibility with the foot- and bike-friendly improvements made to First Street last October, which included tree plantings, parklets, and revised parking.
“First Street is developed as a pedestrian corridor,” maintained the Center’s zoning narrative, “accommodating pocket parks/pedestrian plazas/places of respite at the north and south ends of the site.”
While two of the variances reduced frontage on Taylor, First Street, and Polk, allowing more room to build, the narrative suggested that the shaded public areas on Polk and the mid-block cut-through will actually encourage pedestrian activity.
“All of these [variances] are consistent with a good urban building that invites the community and the campus onto the site, and with good planning by the City for greater density on the site over time,” says ASU Senior Vice President and University Planner Richard Stanley.
“Within the context of the campus and the context of the downtown,” Stanley continues, “it fulfills the intent and spirit…for that…district in terms of its ‘urban-ness,’ its walkability, and its general respect for downtown ambiance.”
Regarding foot-traffic concerns, “The pedestrian walkway along First Street is actually enhanced as a result of the building being there,” he says. “The landscaping and the trees that are in place along the edge of the parking lot now will be maintained, and then in addition to that we would build a berm on the building side of the sidewalk and put some benches in…and have some benches that would be integral into the berm itself.”
“The façade that will be along First Street starting from the south is an extremely open space…something which I think is visually quite active as you walk along the street,” Stanley elaborates. “And then at the northern corner of the building, on Taylor Street, there’s a seating area…and what some people have referred to as sort of a Speaker’s Corner.”
He concludes, “So I think there’s a lot of reasons why someone might choose…an equal choice of walking down First Street to get to Taylor or walking through the building.”
While the community appealed the variances through the standard process, the original approval of the design was ultimately upheld.
Initial discussion within ASU’s administration began around 2009, and the construction schedule spans two years. “I think it’s been a very good process,” he says, “a continuation of the partnership with the city…. It’s a big project both financially and programmatically for us, and so we needed to be very careful that we were planning it properly and that we had the financial wherewithal to be able to handle it.”
Stanley says that ASU’s endeavor may break ground as early as June, and the Center is scheduled to open for the fall term of 2016. “We’re just getting to the point of having the finalized bid prices in on the project,” he explains, “and that’s the point in the standard process at the universities that we take the project to the Board of Regents…we go back to them to have the final approval to proceed with the actual spending of the money.” Stanley adds, “We won’t be bringing them any surprises.”
“I will certainly be following up with…the groups that represent downtown neighborhoods,” said Stanley. “I’ll offer up regular progress reports on the building…. If there’s any dramatic change in the nature of the plans as we go along…we’d come back and talk to them about that.”
As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“Ultimately it’s the people that have made the difference.”
Mike Ebert, a founding partner of RED, the development company responsible for building CityScape, has a heartfelt passion for downtown Phoenix. Originally from Nebraska, he moved to Arizona thirty years ago to attend ASU, where he majored in real estate and finance. For many years RED’s development activities were focused in suburban locations but, in the mid-2000’s, he and his partners at RED, which has property in 10 states west of the Mississippi, began noticing an overall trend toward downtown development, which inspired the desire to work on a development here in their home state. We sat down with Ebert at an outdoor table at CityScape on a beautiful spring day to get his perspective on the future of downtown Phoenix.
In addition to spotting an urban trend, Ebert’s appreciation for great cities was part of what inspired him to want to create CityScape. “New York City is the most inspiring place in the United States to visit from a walkability experience,” he said. “It is my favorite city to visit. Certainly there is San Francisco and several other great American cities,” he continued. “All of these cities always help inspire you.”
One trip to New York, in particular, helped galvanize his thinking about developing CityScape. “During the deepest part of the recession, when we were just starting construction here in 2009, I was walking by Rockefeller Plaza. I’m not one to stop and smell the roses, but I stopped and read a plaque there and learned that during the 1930s, Rockefeller had developed 6,000,000 square feet, which is a big portion of Manhattan.” The realization that Rockefeller had invested so much in the city during the depths of the Great Depression fueled his confidence in the CityScape project. “It reinforced that we were going through a tough time as a community, but there was a much brighter day ahead of us.”
“That’s what I’m most excited about, is being a part of and supporting the entrepreneur developer, the smaller projects that are going to make this downtown area truly special.“
What has made the biggest difference in the development of downtown? “Ultimately it’s the people that have made the difference,” he said. “For much of my career as a developer you just hoped people didn’t oppose you. This (the development of CityScape) was the first time in my life where people were rooting for us. That helped change a lot of my view of community, cooperation and the things that happen when people are working together.” As he puts it, “it was the first time people who didn’t have a direct interest were working for us.”
He is quick to appreciate what a great job the city has done to enable development in downtown, but firmly believes that the private sector has to finish the job. “Cities are very good at doing the big items: infrastructure, light rail, and the university, but the cities aren’t the ones that can finish it, that can make a neighborhood of downtown.”
The next phase, from his perspective, needs to be undertaken by entrepreneur developers. “That’s what I’m most excited about, is being a part of and supporting the entrepreneur developer, the smaller projects that are going to make this downtown area truly special.”
Ebert sits on the board of Downtown Phoenix Inc. and has been involved in its formation from the beginning. He believes that this new structure is critical to long-term outcomes for downtown. DPI will allow the definition of downtown to expand beyond the boundaries of the current Downtown Enhanced Municipal Services District (Downtown Phoenix Partnership) to include neighboring areas such as the Historic Roosevelt Neighborhood, the Evans Churchill neighborhood (home of Roosevelt Row) and others. This expanded definition of the geography of downtown will create a stronger, unified voice.
“I believe head to toe that the most talented people in the state live and work downtown in education, healthcare, law, sports, travel, and hotels. The hope with DPI is that we will give those talented people a clear picture of what they can be involved in downtown. If we ignite that group of talented people and connect them, they can move mountains.”
His experience with the outpouring of support for CityScape appears to have been the seed that planted his appreciation for the tremendous value of people working together. “We’re seeing for the very first time tremendous collaboration in a pro-community way.”
The biggest challenge going forward from his perspective is the vacant lots in downtown, most of which are owned by the city and the county. These vacant lots make it challenging to create true walkability, which is key to a vibrant downtown.
“I believe head to toe that the most talented people in the state live and work downtown in education, healthcare, law, sports, travel, and hotels…If we ignite that group of talented people and connect them, they can move mountains.”
“People like crowds, people like seeing other people,” said Ebert. “We’ve got virtually no serious crime down here to speak of, but you always have that perception of safety if you have vacant lots. My hope is that DPI can help encourage the development of the vacant lots, and encourage private investment, which will help with shade and walkability.”
Because they are such important landowners, according to Ebert, “the city and the county can have a big hand by just working with the community to put those properties they have into production.” For Ebert, encouraging this will be a big part of what DPI can do over the next several years to make a difference.
What is the most important quality that he brings to DPI? “I hope it’s passion,” he said. “We’ve got a great board. They were put together for all the right reasons. Being the only real estate developer, I have a passion for the development of downtown,” he said. “Not just our development, but development by others. We do need the private sector to step up and have a pro-downtown agenda.” He believes that DPI should have the strongest voice in the development of downtown.
With both the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl coming to town next February, Ebert believes we have a real opportunity to increase the number of people who will want to live, work and play in downtown. He points out that the NFL historically has not had events that they controlled or sponsored until the last three years in Indianapolis, then New Orleans, and last year in New York City. “The fact that it’s (Super Bowl Central) going to be in the core of downtown after those three experiences speaks volumes about where downtown is. It’s one of those affirmations of where we’re going.”
For Ebert, a key factor in the success of those events and the after-Super Bowl positive impact for the cities, particularly in Indianapolis, was their “great culture of volunteerism.” He believes that they really communicated a level of hospitality that was attractive to people. “People like to feel welcome,” he said. “There’s not more to do there than here in downtown Phoenix. They didn’t have any secret sauce that we don’t have.”
In conclusion, Ebert noted that membership in DPI will be very important going forward. “We have a passionate group,” he reiterated, “but it needs to be larger. We need to let people know, if you want to be involved in the community and serve, join the membership group. As it grows and members start collaborating, it will have a big impact.”