Cronkite New Media Innovation Lab

In the Cronkite School's New Media Innovation Lab, journalism students work side by side with computer engineering, design and business students to create cutting-edge digital media products for regional and national media companies and other organizations.

Students with ideas for digital products or media-related businesses also may develop their entrepreneurial ventures in the lab. Students pursuing this area present their ventures to local investors and experienced entrepreneurs at a “Shark Tank”-style event and get mentorship as they apply for grants from ASU’s Edson Initiative, which gives $200,000 each year to fund student entrepreneurial projects.

Also in the NMIL, interested students can opt to design, prototype and develop news games that tell complex stories in innovative ways, helping news organizations to engage new audiences.

The lab has worked on projects for a number of local and national media companies. Most recently, students completed a wildfire tracker for The Arizona Republic that pulls in a decade of maps and data on wildfires in the state and tracks fires currently burning. The lab has developed several native and mobile apps for clients, including a hiking app for the state of Arizona’s Parks and Recreation Department, a city guide for the Town of Queen Creek and an app for the Society of Baseball Research that pinpoints baseball attractions in all MLB cities.

Students have explored news games and interactives to give nontraditional news consumers new ways of getting information. For example, they developed a game that allows the player to take on the role of a returning veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as he or she tries to maneuver the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration. “Can You Make It Through the VA?” was created as part of the News21 2013 investigative report on returning 9-11 veterans and was partially funded by American Public Media.

NMIL students also work on tools that other journalists and newsrooms can use. The lab built a cartogram tool that can be used to visualize, map and compare data by the 50 states and completed a django back-end tool for Open Street Maps that allows users to map and mark up location-based content in interesting ways. The lab is currently working on a narrative-based game design tool built specifically for journalists. And, finally, the lab is experimenting with augmented reality and wearable technology and how it can be used for news delivery.

In addition to creating tools, mobile and Web applications, the lab has become a valuable resource for members of the community who might be interested in digital media entrepreneurship or who might need direction in creating applications of their own.

The lab is always looking for interesting projects. For more information, contact director Retha Hill at retha.hill@asu.edu