Starting with Cronkite journalism school, think tank wants 'freedom from indoctrination'

Starting with Cronkite journalism school, think tank wants 'freedom from indoctrination'

Starting with Cronkite journalism school, think tank wants 'freedom from indoctrination'

A well-known journalism school at Arizona State University is preparing future reporters to be compliant agents of left-wing thought but a think tank says it has a way to fight back.

Timothy Minella, a senior fellow at the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, is using his own writing skills to shame the Cronkite School of Journalism for the left-wing dogma it is teaching students at ASU.  

“Do journalism students need a course on nonbinary pop stars?” is the headline of Minella’s March 18 story. The headline comes from a writing assignment in which students are required to develop a public relations plan for a hypothetical pop star who uses “them/them” pronouns.

The journalism course Minella writes about at ASU is called “Diversity and Civility at ASU.”

After fighting ASU for months, Goldwater Institute finally obtained information about the “Diversity and Civility” course through a public records request. The think tank also obtained the course syllabus and online materials for the course, which Minella published in his “nonbinary pop stars” story.  

Minella, Timothy Minella

 “We found that the course is teaching some dubious concepts,” Minella tells AFN, “including things like microaggression and issues of so-called ‘cisgender privilege,’ and other issues of sexual and gender identity.”

A so-called “microaggression” is an offensive statement rooted in discrimination. According to Cronkite, examples of a hurtful microaggression are “America is a melting pot” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”

Other phrases Goldwater found in the course materials are “There is only one race, the human race,” and “When I look at you, I don't see color.”

Agreeing to refrain from uttering those so-called “microaggressions” is a form of self-censorship, in this case for future journalists writing for a news website or reporting for a local TV news station.

Freedom From Indoctrination Act

Beyond calling attention to those biased left-wing courses, Minella and Goldwater Institute are urging the Arizona state legislature pass legislation to stop it.

In collaboration with Speech First, a student free-speech group, Goldwater is asking Arizona legislators to pass the Freedom from Indoctrination Act that would end DEI-themed student orientations; end mandatory courses such as “Diversity and Civility” for college students; and protect professors from being required to introduce DEI concepts in their classrooms.

Florida's Republican-led legislature passed a similar bill in 2022, House Bill 7, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law. 

"No one should be instructed to feel as if they are not equal or shamed because of their race,” Gov. DeSantis said at the bill signing. “In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida.”

Cronkite faculty voted for ‘required course’

AFN first reported on the “Diversity and Civility” course in September 2023, when Goldwater Institute was demanding syllabus information on the journalism school’s mandatory DEI courses for freshmen students.

ASU told AFN last fall that DEI instruction was not mandatory for students, and said Goldwater was “misinformed,” but AFN’s own journalistic investigation of the university’s DEI-related website and its “Diversity Plan” suggested otherwise. On one web page, an ASU story said journalism faculty voted in 2021 to add a “required course” called “Diversity and Civility at Cronkite.”

In other words, a journalism school appeared to lie to a news website about its mandatory left-wing indoctrination.  

According to Goldwater Institute, more than 400 Cronkite students were required to sit through the “Diversity and Civility” course when classes began last fall.

In the “Diversity and Civility” class syllabus, it states the course “sets the tone for your Cronkite interactions…Think of this class as the first step in your DEI—diversity, equity, and inclusion—practice as a journalist or communications professional.”

In all, Goldwater said it found DEI-related phrases in more than 100 courses ASU students are taking during the current spring semester.