In the Cronkite School's New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship 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. They then have the opportunity to present their prototypes to local investors and experienced entrepreneurs.
In recent semesters, students in the lab have designed and developed news games that tell complex stories in innovative ways, helping news organizations, including Cronkite News at Arizona PBS, engage new audiences. Other projects have included a light rail app for the new Apple Watch as well as a wildfire tracker for The Arizona Republic newspaper that pulls in a decade of maps and data on wildfires in the state and tracks fires currently burning. The lab also 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, Arizona, and an app for the Society of Baseball Research that pinpoints baseball attractions in all MLB cities.
Students work under the direction of digital media innovator Retha Hill, formerly vice president for content for BET Interactive, the online unit of Black Entertainment Television. They leave the lab well-prepared to work for a tech or media startup, become innovators and intrapreneurs in legacy newsrooms or launch their own businesses as media and tech entrepreneurs.
In addition to creating tools and mobile and Web applications, the lab has become a valuable resource for members of the community who are interested in digital media entrepreneurship or who need direction in creating applications of their own.