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New degree program helps ASU build strong sports journalism students


Katlyn Ewens

NORTH VALLEY – After two years of planning, Arizona State University has added a new sports journalism major to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The program will provide current and future journalism students with the tools needed to be successful in the sports industry.

Its impetus for the new major grew out of student organizations and an expressed interest on campus.

Mark Lodato, the assistant dean of the Walter Cronkite School, said student organizations and clubs “are always a good indication of where interest is heading.”

Sports-related clubs at Walter Cronkite, such as the Association for Women in Sports Media and the Walter Cronkite Sports Network, have seen an increase in participation and popularity, which showed a shift in student body interest that ASU has watched closely.

For many students, including junior Nicole Vasquez, sports are a passion and the singular career path they see themselves on. For these students, the new major is a dream come true.

“I want to end up in the sports business and nothing else,” Vasquez said.

After hearing about the sports journalism major, Vasquez switched from broadcast journalism to sports journalism because she felt it would give her the specific skills she needed to set her apart in the sports industry.

The sports journalism major shows ASU’s clear response to its student body’s growing interest, but for many students the new major comes a little too late.

Justin Emerson is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School. He is very involved in sports on campus and has written for The State Press, House of Sparky, and currently acts as the assistant media relations intern for the ASU hockey team. He is working toward a dual degree program that includes a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, as well as a Masters of Communication.

Switching to sports journalism this late in his college career did not make sense for Emerson, who will graduate in May, but he still had access to a lot of the opportunities provided prior to the university establishing the major.

ASU’s sports journalism program has now become a model for other colleges around the country.  The professional programs, faculty, and flexibility are all areas that shine at Walter Cronkite. Many other colleges and universities are trying to create a similar program, but are finding they don’t have the faculty or the flexibility found in Phoenix.

ASU’s sports journalism program is still brimming with fresh ideas and is poised to move in so many exciting directions. The faculty continues its commitment to providing real world student experiences and already has plans for possible 2016 Summer Olympics internships.

The Walter Cronkite School is already a shining star at Arizona State University. Its new sports journalism program adds even more luster and has students from around the country looking to Phoenix for a one-of-a-kind experience.