ASU’s Cronkite School unveils online resource for Knight initiative to innovate local TV news

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University has launched a new digital resource to help local TV news professionals spark innovation at their stations.

The school on Monday unveiled Knight-Cronkite News Lab, a multiplatform online hub with content to help local TV news stations connect with a new generation of media consumers.

Knight-Cronkite News Lab is led by former CBS News President Andrew Heyward, who joined the Cronkite School in May to direct the research arm of this unique three-part initiative to promote local TV news innovation through research, collaboration and experimentation. The initiative is supported by a $1.9 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“There are many local communities where television — and by 'television' we mean broadcast, digital and next-generation platforms — is the number one source of news for residents," said Karen Rundlet, a journalism director at Knight Foundation. “TV still has strong revenues. The question is, will their newsrooms innovate to stay relevant to digital audiences?”

Heyward said the project’s goal is to discover and share innovative experiments from local TV newsrooms across the country, with a steady influx of new case studies across a broad spectrum of stations, formats and themes. The Knight-Cronkite News Lab also will conduct its own experiments at Cronkite News, the student-produced, faculty-led news division of Arizona PBS.

“Our goal at the lab is to inform, inspire and, we hope, entertain,” Heyward said. “Our reporting focuses on distinctive ideas and the human stories behind them — innovations that are transforming one of America’s most vital sources of news and information.”

The Knight-Cronkite News Lab focuses on five main areas of innovation: digital, broadcast, management, technology and “outside in” — ideas from outside local TV. It also will feature a weekly newsletter highlighting new content and valuable information that appears on the new hub.

Heyward said local TV newsrooms are experimenting widely on both broadcast and digital platforms, noting that the Knight-Cronkite News Lab will compile this information, making it easier for news professionals to see what’s going on in other markets.

Announced in February, the Knight Foundation initiative promotes innovation in local TV news that fosters informed and engaged communities. In October, the Cronkite School announced the hiring of Frank Mungeam, a top television news executive who led content transformation at TEGNA to head the collaboration and experimentation arms of the initiative.

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