The Ahmanson Foundation recently awarded Azusa Pacific University a $300,000 grant toward the construction of a convergent media center to equip journalism and public relations students with the skills and experience they need to succeed as professionals in these evolving industries.

“Gone are the days of being a ‘print’ journalist or ‘broadcast’ journalist only,” said Kent Walls, assistant professor of journalism. “Today, one must be a multimedia storyteller.” With the creation of a state-of-the-art integrated newsroom on West Campus, students will have a space, reflective of a professional journalistic environment, where print, audio, video, and web content is combined in strategic ways to ensure the best news content possible. “Through the generosity of the Ahmanson Foundation, APU will become a leader and innovator in collegiate journalism,” said Walls.

The center will also house a student-run PR agency. “As the demand for information continues to increase due to the 24-hour digital news cycle, public relations practitioners serve as useful sources for overworked journalists. They provide story ideas, facilitate media opportunities, and provide journalists with spokespeople and content, so it makes sense to have these functions co-located,” said Ismael Medel, Ph.D., assistant professor of public relations.

The newsroom will complete the media makeover that began in fall 2017 when APU’s Department of Communication Studies’ journalism program launched the rebranding of its four media outlets. The Clause, Collide, Capture, and KAPU combined to form ZU Media: Student Voice of Azusa Pacific University, at

“A modern newsroom will allow students to refine their skills in ways that will prepare them to succeed in future internships and jobs,” said Jamie Roebuck-Joseph ’18, editor-in-chief of ZU News. “With these changes, I believe APU will attract more students interested in journalism.”

“When the new facility is complete, the walls between each of our news outlets will disappear,” said Steven Smith, executive producer/director of ZU TV. “If a story breaks on campus, a journalism student can make a video from an editing station for the web, move over to the recording suite and create a podcast, and publish a print story online without having to leave the room.”

According to Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, “The convergence process, multi-skilling, the need to integrate digital network technologies, and a new producer-consumer relationship have become the largest challenges for journalism today.”

Smith said these challenges are the very reasons he wishes to pursue this career. “Now more than ever, we need ethical journalists in this country to keep the powerful accountable and report accurate information in a compelling manner across platforms.”

The Ahmanson Foundation’s broad purpose is to administer funds for charitable, scientific, educational, literary, and religious purposes, all for the public welfare. The Foundation concentrates its funding on cultural projects supporting the arts, education at the collegiate and pre-collegiate levels, medicine and delivery of health care services, specialized library collections, programs related to homelessness and low-income populations, preservation of the environment, and a wide range of human service projects. Through such focused interests and shared vision with the non-profit sector, the Foundation endeavors to increase the quality of life in Southern California and to enhance its cultural legacy.


Rachel White
Associate Director of Public Relations
Phone: (626) 815-4502