Andrew Heyward, a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab who served for nearly a decade as president of CBS News, is joining Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in an initiative designed to advance innovation in local television news.
Heyward, an expert on the changing media landscape, will direct the research arm of a unique three-part project to promote local TV news innovation through research, collaboration and experimentation. The initiative is supported by a three-year, $1.9 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
“Andrew Heyward is one of this country’s media thought leaders,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “His expertise will be critical in spotlighting research and best practices that can help local television news stations innovate.”
As senior researcher for TV news, Heyward will seek out and analyze effective local TV news initiatives already taking place across the country on both linear and digital platforms. The exploration will include a broad array of innovations, experiments, collaborations and best practices on both the editorial and business fronts. Heyward and his colleagues will create a new digital resource to share their findings online and on social media with local TV news leaders.
“For decades, local TV news has been a trusted source that is vital to the health of our democracy,” Heyward said, “and today it must re-invent itself to meet the needs of a new generation of news consumers. I’m excited to be joining the Cronkite School on this very important project.”
Heyward, who begins his new assignment this week, will continue in his role as a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines, where he is working on artificial-intelligence-based tools to strengthen local journalism.
Heyward was president of CBS News from January 1996 to November 2005. He joined CBS News in 1981, working as a producer and later executive producer of the “CBS Evening News.”
He was responsible for developing and launching “48 Hours,” the prime-time CBS News hour that premiered in January 1988.
A graduate of Harvard University, Heyward began his career working in local news at WNEW-TV and WCBS-TV in New York.
Announced in February, the Knight Foundation initiative will help promote innovation in local TV news that fosters informed and engaged communities in three ways: experiments in television news broadcast formats and digital storytelling; a leadership program to promote digital transformation; and a digital hub that shares research and best practices.
Knight Foundation has helped establish some of the school’s signature programs, providing more than $10 million in support. Knight-funded programs include Carnegie-Knight News21, a national fellowship program in which top journalism students from across the country conduct national investigations into issues critical to Americans, and the Knight Chair in Journalism, a tenured professorship at Cronkite currently held by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sarah Cohen, who led the data journalism team at The New York Times.