In the midst of tragedy, a teachable moment: UA School of Journalism faculty, students help cover Tucson mass shooting -- January 2011

Nancy Sharkey

Several faculty and students in the University of Arizona School of Journalism have been part of the intense newsgathering process in Tucson following the mass shooting and attempted assassination on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson Jan. 8.

Nancy Sharkey, a professor of practice and former senior editor at The New York Times, helped coordinate the initial Tucson coverage for The Times. Faculty member Lisa Button, who manages the School’s internship programs, reported for The Times, as did students Kristina Bui, Mike Christy, Will Ferguson, Brenna Goth, Devlin Houser, Clayton Norman, Anissa Tanweer and graduate Roxana Vasquez. Student Samantha Sais contributed photos, and former UA journalism faculty member and Times staffer Ford Burkhart helped report.

Rick Berke, the national editor of The Times, praised his staff and “Nancy Sharkey’s indefatigable team in Tucson,” for “toiling side by side, non stop, to produce the freshest, smartest and sharpest report on all platforms.”

In 2008, the UA School of Journalism began serving as one of two sites in the country for The New York Times Student Journalism Institute. The institute offers approximately 20 student journalists an opportunity to work for 10 days with Times’ reporters and editors in a newsroom environment. Nineteen UA journalism students have been selected to participate in the institute during the past three years.

Other UA journalism students are covering the shooting for various media outlets. Colleen Bush and Dave McErlean are stringing for the New York Post; Josh Morgan is interning for the Tucson Weekly; Bethany Conway and Paul Ingram are writing for the Associated Press; and Hank Stephenson has been covering the events for Nogales International.

Alumni from the School of Journalism also have been working on the coverage of the story for local and national media outlets. They include the following, as well as many others:

• Savannah Guthrie, NBC Nightly News and MSNBC;

• Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times;

• Sam Stanton, Sacramento Bee;

• Nicole Acorn Crites, KPHO-Channel 5, Phoenix;

• Joe Pangburn, Inside Tucson Business;

• Mark Evans,;

• Brian White, KOLD News 13, Tucson’s CBS affiliate;

• Jason Ground, KMSB Fox 11, Tucson’s Fox affiliate;

• Sheryl Kornman, KGUN-9, Tucson's ABC affiliate, who was the sole assignment editor and web producer for KGUN on duty when the shootings took place. Korman also arranged coverage that was picked up for national media for several days after the shootings;

• Juliana Vasquez, in Phoenix

• Victoria Tinajero, KNXV-TV, Phoenix’s ABC affiliate;

• Lorraine Rivera and Sandy Rathbun, KVOA-Channel 4, Tucson's NBC affiliate; and

• Rhonda Bodfield, Veronica Cruz, Carmen Duarte, Fernanda Echávarri, Ryan Finley, Shannon Conner, Bobbie Jo Buel, Jill Jordan Spitz, Hipolito Corella, Andrea Kelly, David Fitzsimmons and Sarah Gassen as well as photographers Fred Araiza and Dean Knuth , Arizona Daily Star.

UA journalism alumni with the UA and with University Medical Center have also pulled double shifts to handle media requests from around the world for what has been the biggest story in Tucson in recent memory. They include: Katie Riley, Jo Gellerman, Al Bravo, Jennifer Fitzenberger, George Humphrey and Sara Hammond and student Erica Coleman.

In addition, adjunct faculty members Tom Beal, Stephanie Innes and Jane See White (Arizona Daily Star) and Jim Nintzel (Tucson Weekly) covered the story. Alumni Mark Evans, Lorraine Rivera, Rhonda Bodfield and Sarah Gassen also teach in the School of Journalism.

The UA School of Journalism’s undergraduate program has been nationally accredited for more than 45 years by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. It is one of the few programs in the nation that focuses only on journalism.

UA School of Journalism graduates have gone to work for major news media ranging from The New York Times to CNN International, have won nearly every major award in the profession — including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Magazine Award — and have written stories that have changed state and national laws and policies.

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