Ted Simons: ASU's Cronkite news service just launched a Washington news bureau, which means that Arizona State University journalism students are now covering news and politics right there in the nation's capitol. Earlier today, I talked about the new bureau with Chris Callahan, dean of the Cronkite school of journalism and mass communication. Thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon."
Chris Callahan: Thanks.
Ted Simons: This is a news bureau in D.C., talking wire service only for now?
Chris Callahan: No, all platforms. It will be print, it will be television and multimedia.
Ted Simons: How did this come about?
Chris Callahan” Well, Washington is the news capital of the world and we want our students to have the best experience possible and president Crow was very excited about this idea we pitched about having a Cronkite news service bureau in the nation's capitol.
Ted Simons: Will there be a full staff. Will teachers be there. How many students?
Chris Callahan: We started this week and I was there yesterday and we have -- starting off with half a dozen students. It will grow a little bit and we have a full time editor and yesterday we had Len Downy, the former editor of the "Washington post" there talking about how to cover Washington.
Ted Simons: As far as one professor running the whole show.
Chris Callahan: That's right, full time, and that is Steve Crane, that's his sole responsibility is that news bureau with those full-time students.
Ted Simons: What does he bring to the table?
Chris Callahan: One of the best editors I've known. I had the pleasure of working with him at the University of Maryland, where we ran a similar program, public affairs reporting program. He has a deep professional background and is terrific with young journalists. He’s a perfect match.
Ted Simons: So, he's the editor here, he kinda gets to decide what’s going on and gets to lay the foundation. What news stories will these students be sent on in Washington. Obviously, there's got to be an Arizona connection somewhere.
Chris Callahan: All about Arizona. One of the things we want to provide to news stations and websites is what's going on in Washington from an Arizona perspective. And regional reporting in Washington has diminished dramatically, especially over the last three, four, five years. We want to provide that kind of news to these different news outlets across Arizona.
Ted Simons: With the idea that this presence has diminished over the years, are the news outlets open to taking this material? Sometimes you get proprietary here.
Chris Callahan: Absolutely, and as you know, we've had Cronkite news service operating for five years covering statehouse news here in Phoenix for news organizations all around the state. The Washington bureau will be fed out through the same distribution system and we think if anything those stories will be even more popular.
Ted Simons: How do you pick the students? Is it graduate or upper level statutes or freshmen or sophomores?
Chris Callahan: This is for the best of the advanced students who then apply for the students. So it's the best of the best.
Ted Simons: They'll have to apply? It’s almost like getting a job?
Chris Callahan: Yes, absolutely.
Ted Simons: Is it staffed all year, because I know, you know, universities have certain cycles. What happens in the dead of summer?
Chris Callahan: We'll did a full fall semester and spring and then the summer. During the breaks in between, we won't have staffing but most of the year we will.
Ted Simons: This is an odd question, I guess. But I think of myself as a university student and having the opportunity to go to Washington and cover events in the nation's capitol. How do you keep a student journalist from getting overwhelmed?
Chris Callahan: That’s what Steve is there fore, cause it can be overwhelming. I was a young reporter in Washington and it was a little daunting but to have a high level professional editor there to show them the ropes, really break down Washington in more -- in more bite-sized pieces, if you will, and not covering the big national stories. We're covering the Arizona story. What's going on on the Hill that specifically affects the valley and all parts of Arizona. Same with the federal regulatory agencies and Supreme Court.
Ted Simons: ASU, it's a big move for the journalism department. Are there other universities around the country that have this – type of a bureau in Washington?
Chris Callahan: University of the Maryland, where I came from, and northwestern university, the Medill school and we're the third full-time journalism school there.
Ted Simons: When the kids graduate or move on, what do you want it hear from them, what do you want to hear that they experienced -- what do you think they should get from this?
Chris Callahan: Just an outstanding journalism experience and we don't expect them to go back it Washington as soon as they graduate. Washington is a place you return to over a number of years. But we think the experience they'll have, covering the nation’s capital, they can apply to city hall, to statehouses all around the country and that’s really our goal.
Ted Simons: And we’ve talked about this before, the Cronkite School, everything here is topnotch. Everything is state-of-the-art and these kids get a wonderful education with the best of the best, but a lot of graduate and wind up in Dubuque or Yuma or smaller markets where the equipment isn't the same. These kids are going to be in Washington D.C. Around the powerful of the powerful. You have to watch out for a letdown when you go back to Butte Montana, or something.
Chris Callahan: It's a heady experience but part of our job is to let them know it's all about the journalism and if you’re a great journalist and practicing at the highest level, it shouldn't matter where you are and the equipment, while it can be helpful, it's not the technology, it's about your journalism skills. And you should be able to apply those skills no matter where you are.
Ted Simons: And those skills change, it's a moving target with social media and electronic gadgetry going on right now. it has to be something that's difficult to keep an eye on, get a handle on.
Chris Callahan: Yes, and we try to keep ahead of the curve, it's very difficult. The advantage we have is the students because they are -- they're digital natives and understanding of the stuff better than we do in. So, in teaching the journalism, they pick up on the technology quite quickly.
Ted Simons: Up and operational as we speak?
Chris Callahan: As of this week.