Arizona State J-School’s Takeover of PBS Station in Phoenix ‘Has Game-Changing Potential’

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University just announced it is adding a crown jewel of epic proportions and three very well-known letters to its kingdom: PBS.

According to USA TODAY, “Starting next Tuesday, the j-school will own and operate Eight, Arizona PBS, the PBS outlet in Phoenix, the nation’s 12th-largest media market. It will take over news and public affairs programming on the station’s three TV channels and its website. And, more intriguing, the school will offer the station as a venue for professional news outlets to experiment as they try to reinvent journalism in the digital age.”

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Wowza. An uber-prominent platform for students to engage in real-time, real-world news reporting, broadcast production and online innovation. A beyond-badass bridge from the classroom to the community. A chance for students to interact with and assist cutting-edge professional journos before graduation. An opportunity to leave a lasting mark on journalism 4.0 or whatever era we’re currently ensconced within.

To be clear, the sounds you’re hearing right now are the frantic clicks of prospective j-students and their parents nationwide searching for instructions on how to apply immediately to ASU and Googling things like “ASU Football: Any Good?” and “Things to Do in Phoenix.

Of course, the university’s Cronkite school is not the first journalism program to align with an established professional press outlet, start its own independent professionally-oriented news service or operate a news innovation lab. But this may be the boldest leap yet into the “teaching hospital” universe — given the A-list PBS brand and the fact that it’s a full-blown takeover (placing the students and educators in the driver’s seat instead of beholden to what the professionals want).

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Cronkite dean Christopher Callahan, in full-on, well-deserved humble-brag mode: “This has game-changing potential. The combination of a large PBS outlet and a university that prides itself on disruptive innovation is very powerful.”

USA TODAY media editor and columnist Rem Rieder adds his own back-slap: “So congratulations to the Sun Devils. Journalism needs all the help it can get as it retools in a daunting, yet exciting, time. This lab has the potential to be a great addition to the roster.”

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