Cronkite School hires 12 News anchor Vanessa Ruiz

Vanessa Ruiz
Former 12 News anchor Vanessa Ruiz has joined the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism's team and will assist the borderlands program and the newly developed Spanish-speaking broadcast Cronkite Noticias. (Courtesy of Vanessa Ruiz)

Cronkite News borderlands coverage will be headed by an award-winning anchor and bilingual correspondent this fall, part of recent offerings focused on training budding journalists in bilingual and border coverage.

Students in both digital and TV news at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will have the chance to learn advanced reporting skills in Spanish-language and borderlands reporting programs from 12 News anchor Vanessa Ruiz starting this fall.

The hiring of Ruiz and the recent launch of Cronkite Noticias, a Spanish-language multiplatform news program, highlights the Cronkite School’s growing efforts to train students on border reporting and for the Spanish-language market.

As Arizona and the country’s Latino population grows, there is also a growing demand for Spanish-language news and reporting on Latino and border issues, creating job opportunities for Spanish-language journalists. Despite these trends, many journalism schools do not yet offer extensive Spanish-language news programs.

Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan said with a growing Latino population, Spanish-language news outlets are growing and are “hungry for Cronkite-trained Spanish-speaking journalists.”

Cronkite Noticias started in January 2016 after the Raza Development Fund gifted the Cronkite School their Spanish-language pilot news website, Mixed Voices, and seed money to support the website and hire a professional editor. Through the program, students report on stories about the economy, politics, immigration and other issues important to Arizona’s Latino community. Students also work with the Cronkite News Borderlands Initiative, a student-produced, faculty-led program covering border and immigration issues.

Cronkite Noticias airs 30-minute episodes every Friday on Univision Arizona’s KFPH UniMás. Students also write and publish stories at cronkitenoticias.azpbs.org.

The Cronkite School and Arizona PBS also launched a 30-day crowdfunding campaign in 2016 to help Cronkite News, the student staffed and faculty-led news division of Arizona PBS, pay for increased borderlands coverage during the past election year.

RELATED: Cronkite News crowdfunding campaign builds on industry trends

Valeria Fernández, the interim leader of Cronkite Noticias, said there are many job opportunities for students in Spanish-language news, and that Ruiz will be able to help both English and Spanish-speaking students report on cultural issues.

“It is important to prepare reporters even if they are going to be working in English to be able to report with cultural awareness,” Fernández said.

Fernández, who has also worked for both Spanish- and English-language news programs, said Ruiz’s past professional experience is beneficial because she understands how to reach both English- and Spanish-speaking audiences.

“It is important to have people that not only can speak the language but that work in the different mediums, that have experience working with stations in Spanish (because) the audiences are different,” Fernández said. “We need to communicate. We need to do journalism being very aware of the audience and being able to train the students to know how to do that switch.”

Ruiz said she is looking forward to mentoring students and helping them be successful in Spanish-language news.

“I am really excited to hopefully help Cronkite Noticias expand its content and also help students achieve their goals if that’s something that they want to go ahead and dive into once they graduate,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz will also work on camera with special productions for Arizona PBS and will publicly represent the university during some events promoting the Cronkite School.

Contact the reporter at pathey@asu.edu