Cronkite School launches series of Mexico initiatives

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is launching several initiatives this fall with its Mexican partners to deepen the school’s engagement with our neighboring country and its dynamic media environment.

Cronkite’s growing presence in Mexico reflects Arizona State University’s broader commitment to social embeddedness and to the communities it serves, as well as a recognition that as our biggest challenges and opportunities cross borders, so too should our response to them.

“I believe that by engaging with Mexico, Cronkite simultaneously advances two core objectives: We become more global, and we become more responsive to the demographic diversity of our state and students. As I settle in to my role as dean, I am convinced that we need to extend the reach of our school’s formidable strengths beyond our borders, and I am really excited at the progress we are making,” Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. said.

Cronkite’s new initiatives with its Mexican partners include the following.

Symbiosis: Tradecraft Periodístico

Cronkite Global Initiatives and Gatopardo, an influential narrative magazine that covers Latin America and its diasporas, are launching Symbiosis, a space for collaboration, professional development and on-the-ground reporting designed for talented young journalists. Symbiosis will offer three kinds of inclusive, tradecraft-strengthening trainings: public conversations, specialized workshops and on-site residencies. 

Symbiosis will broadcast a conversation with a leading journalist from the U.S. or Latin America. The conversations will take place every Wednesday evening from Oct. 13 to Dec. 1 and explore topics such as: 

  • What does narrative journalism give us that traditional reporting cannot?
  • What is the difference between extractive and ethical journalism?
  • How can one cover the climate crisis with the sense of urgency it requires, while also focusing on solutions?
  • What are tools journalists can use in covering social justice and systemic racism?
  • How can an individual story illustrate systemic problems?

These conversations will also be archived and made available to anyone, for free, in English and Spanish with subtitles.

In the spring, the Cronkite School and Gatopardo will host a hands-on, virtual workshop on narrative journalism techniques, available to students and young journalists throughout the Americas. 

Finally, Symbiosis will host an on-site residency program in summer 2022 based out of Gatopardo facilities in the Yucatan peninsula. Residents will participate in on-the-ground training and reporting, and produce multimedia, multilingual reports that can be published in the U.S. and Mexico. 

Gatopardo and Cronkite are also planning to develop a joint series of podcasts. 

“What we are doing with Symbiosis is creating the type of cross-border, cross-cultural experience for faculty and students that allows us all to grow and learn while creating high-quality journalism with talented partners in another country. Symbiosis is emblematic of what Cronkite Global Initiatives is all about, and a model to replicate in other countries,” said Juan Mundel, director of Cronkite Global Initiatives.

More information can be found on the Symbiosis website.

Cross-border class on international reporting

In partnership with the journalism program at Mexico’s Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Cronkite Professor of Practice Andrés Martinez was awarded a U.S. State Department 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant for a binational class that will be at the heart of a Cronkite/CIDE “Transborder Incubator for Journalism” program. Students and professors from both universities will participate in a joint virtual classroom, and during the semester, participants will travel together to the U.S.-Mexico border and work in groups to report, write, produce and publish multimedia stories on economic development, environmental sustainability, cross-border health and digital literacy/misinformation.

The class with CIDE and the broader Transborder Incubator will work closely with, and complement, Cronkite’s growing bilingual journalism offerings and Cronkite Noticias program.

The core funding support for the “Transborder Incubator for Journalism” program is through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund and its partners, the Mary Street Jenkins Foundation, the Coca-Cola Mexico Foundation and Sempra Energy. This is part of the dynamic public-private sector collaboration between the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and Partners of the Americas, working with companies, foundations, regional government entities and academic networks in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create innovative, sustainable partnerships that provide access to new models of academic exchange and training programs in the Americas. Learn more and join the Innovation Network at www.100kstrongamericas.org.

ASU-UNAM science communication network

ASU is in the beginning stages of developing a science communication network with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Latin America’s largest university. As major public research universities interested in democratizing the access to scientific expertise, science and technology communicators from across ASU and UNAM are planning a series of activities aimed at improving the communication skills of scientists and the scientific understanding of journalists.

ASU science and communications professionals who participated in the October launch of the network with UNAM include editors and communicators from Future Tense, Issues in Science and Technology, ASU News, Cronkite Global Initiatives, ASU Knowledge Enterprise, and science and engineering departments across ASU.

News Co/Lab

News Co/Lab recently translated its online course “Mediactive: How to participate in our digital world” into Spanish and added additional content aimed at providing relevant case studies and context to Spanish-speaking audiences outside the U.S. This new content includes a series of interviews with leading Mexican experts. The course launched in Mexico in May with an event on political misinformation, co-sponsored by CIDE and the journalism program at the respected Universidad Iberoamericana. CIDE, News Co/Lab and ASU’s Convergence Lab will co-host another event this winter in Mexico, this time focused on digital privacy and security.

Convergence Lab

Convergence Lab is an ideas journalism and events series hosted by ASU with Mexican organizations that explores the challenges and opportunities Mexico and the U.S. share. Several Cronkite professors have participated in Convergence Lab events or published articles in popular Mexican outlets through the initiative — including Dan GillmorLen Downie Jr.Fernanda SantosKristy RoschkeJulio Cisneros and Brett Kurland, among others.

Knowledge Transfers, a Spotlight in Mexico Today by Reforma

ASU produces a monthly “Spotlight” in Mexico Today, the English-language publication of Mexico’s Reforma newspaper. The “Knowledge Transfers” spotlight is written and edited by Martinez and Mia Armstrong (Cronkite ’19), ASU’s Mexico City-based Convergence Lab coordinator. It focuses on the cross-border flow of knowledge, ideas and innovation. 

New partnership with Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

On Sept. 28, ASU Provost Nancy Gonzales signed an agreement with the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), one of Mexico’s most prestigious universities, to initiate collaborations between the two institutions in student and faculty exchange, and joint academic and research projects. The Cronkite School is among the academic units at ASU that will explore concrete projects with ITAM under the new agreement.

Several of these Cronkite-Mexico initiatives have been developed by Martinez, a native of Mexico who is a professor of practice, a special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow and a Reforma columnist, and Armstrong, who coordinates the Convergence Lab in Mexico City.

“I am proud of the fact that there is no other U.S. academic journalism program working as actively as we are with such a range of prominent Mexican media players to advance the cause of quality, independent journalism that is so important to the future of our democratic societies,” Martinez said.

Armstrong added that the value of these cross-border opportunities for students cannot be overstated.

“As a Cronkite student, I had the opportunity to report in Spanish and English on the border, as well as in Mexico and Peru. I also spent a semester studying abroad in Mexico City. These experiences were the most formative part of my Cronkite education, helping me to grow as a journalist and a person,” she said. “Our goal is to expand the accessibility of international programs, and to give students the chance to creatively and meaningfully engage with colleagues in Mexico and beyond. The stories Cronkite students learn to cover cross borders, and so too does their education.” 

Top photo: Transmission towers on a hilltop in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Photo by futurewalk/iStock