It seems like the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians just completed their epic World Series, yet here we are on the cusp of a new Cactus League season. This spring, the excitement will be palpable not only at the ballparks but in the big-league boost of coverage at azcentral.com.
azcentral sports has created a new website – Cactus League Wire – to feature Arizona spring training stories, photos and video from throughout the Valley. The site will incorporate the best work from azcentral sports and across the USA TODAY Network, and content from student-journalists from Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The site is available at CactusLeagueWire.com and on azcentral sports’ desktop and mobile sites. It has pages devoted to all 15 Cactus League teams, and includes schedules, scores and things to do around the various spring training venues.
Journalists from azcentral, including Diamondbacks insider Nick Piecoro and award-winning Arizona Republic photographers and videographers, will have stories, photos and videos featured on the website alongside the work of Cronkite students.
Contributions from the Cronkite students are a key component to making the site as robust as possible. It’s the seventh year the Cronkite School has sent students to cover spring training. Some of their past content has been included on azcentral.com, but this is the first year their work will be featured so prominently by azcentral.
“Getting hands-on experience by doing spring training is going to be incredible,” said ASU senior Ryan Curry, who soon will be looking to start his career as a professional journalist. “I can’t wait.”
Brett Kurland, professor of practice at the Cronkite School and director of the Cronkite School’s Phoenix Sports Bureau of Cronkite News, described the partnership as a win-win for the students and azcentral.com, saying, “It gives our students the experience and the Republic the content.”
“I tell our students this takes all the skills we’ve taught them in their time at Cronkite and allows them to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty working as reporters,” Kurland said. “I tell the students all the time, ‘I’m your professor but think of me as your editor.’ ”
Kurland said faculty members will accompany the 15 students – seven writers, seven videographers and one photographer – to clubhouses the first few days of spring training just to get them acclimated. After that, however, the students will work the clubhouses on their own while faculty members oversee the coverage from the Sports Bureau in downtown Phoenix.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” said Haley Stesiak, a junior majoring in sports journalism. “I think it will be very different from anything I’ve done before but just being able to get into the clubhouse and get that full-time journalistic experience is amazing.”
It’s why Curry decided to transfer to ASU and the Cronkite School from his previous college in California.
“I’m 22. Being able to have the experience that professionals a lot older than me have every single day is something I’m going to cherish,” Curry said. “Hopefully when employers are hiring students out of college they’ll look at the actual hands-on experience I’ve gotten at Cronkite.”