Frank Mungeam, a top television news executive who has led content transformation at one of the nation’s largest media companies, is joining Arizona State University as part of a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation initiative to innovate local TV news.
Mungeam, the vice president of digital audience engagement at TEGNA, will serve as the Knight Professor of Practice in TV News Innovation at ASU’s ’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He will lead the collaboration and experimentation arms 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 Knight Foundation grant.
Mungeam, who will start in November, will work with Cronkite News, the student-produced news division of Arizona PBS, and commercial television stations to test and measure TV news experiments that promote informed and engaged communities.
“Frank has a deep understanding of the challenges facing local television news today and champions opportunities to innovate,” said Cronkite School Associate Dean Mark Lodato. “To have him working with our students and other television stations will be a tremendous asset to our school and the profession.”
As VP of digital audience engagement, Mungeam has helped lead TEGNA collaborations with companies such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. He also has spearheaded TEGNA’s digital innovation efforts around immersive virtual reality storytelling as well as podcasting and voice pilots.
Mungeam led a first-to-market partnership with Snapchat and Tagboard to use students’ Snap stories of the #MarchforOurLives in Washington, D.C., to report that story on broadcast. He also worked closely with Facebook to fund the production of “An Imperfect Union,” a weekly video series for Facebook Watch designed to promote civil conversation.
Most recently, Mungeam has collaborated with Twitter to amplify TEGNA’s local-market candidate debates to larger audiences.
“We are at a pivotal time in journalism, facing challenges to our business model as well as attacks on the value of our profession,” Mungeam said. “I am excited to join the passionate team of journalists, teachers and students at the Cronkite School and to engage in intentional experiments to innovate sustainable, trustworthy forms of storytelling for the digital age.”
Mungeam earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his master’s degree from Gonzaga University.
Announced in February, the Knight Foundation initiative promotes 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.
In May, the Cronkite School announced the hiring of Andrew Heyward, a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab who served for nearly a decade as president of CBS News, to lead the research arm of the initiative.
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.