PIN Bureau wins ASU innovation award

Joellen Easton
Business Development Manager
Public Insight Network

We are excited to be able to share today that the Public Insight Network Bureau, based at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has won the 2015 ASU President’s Award for Innovation.  This prestigious award is given annually by ASU in recognition of cutting edge projects and programs that significantly benefit ASU and its students.

Cronkite PIN Bureau staff and students, APM Public Insight Network staff and ASU President Michael Crow pose with the award.

Cronkite PIN Bureau staff and students, APM Public Insight Network staff and ASU President Michael Crow pose with the award.

You can read the full press release here.

With the generous support of the Knight Foundation, we created the PIN Bureau with ASU in 2014 to make journalistic engagement using PIN more affordable and more accessible to more media organizations and journalists.  The Bureau partners with news organizations and individual journalists to engage members of their community — as well as sources in PIN’s nearly 220,000 source database — in the reporting process.  PIN inquiries can yield sources for stories, people with experience and expertise, new story ideas, and help to vet story angles with those people most affected by the issue being covered. Clients can order up inquiries one at a time, or sign up for a regular subscription.

Led by veteran journalist and former WAMU PIN journalist Rebecca Blatt, the Bureau has developed into an immersive professional training experience for 20-30 students each year.  The Bureau helps students develop the skills necessary to serve as an engagement specialist for any newsroom, and gives them a chance to collaborate with professional journalists tackling challenging editorial, engagement and outreach questions.

The PIN Bureau helps to train students to be the journalists newsrooms want to hire, and provides an essential service to its client newsrooms and freelancers.  Less than a year in, three students have already secured jobs or internships based in part on the experiences and relationships created through their work in the PIN Bureau.

These students become alums that know how to meet the needs of engagement-savvy newsrooms.  In the PIN Bureau, students develop skills in research, reporting, digital and in-person engagement, and entrepreneurship. They know how to connect with diverse audiences and invite community members to participate in the reporting process. They’ve also completed the Cronkite School’s rigorous reporting program, and they’re ready to integrate community engagement in their reporting work.

Bureau client Utah Public Radio’s news director Kerry Bringhurst says that by collecting and then sending community insights directly to station reporters, the PIN Bureau makes it possible for her small station staff to focus on what they do best: “promoting our projects, preparing for interviews, and producing a product that’s local and timely.”

News organizations interested in learning more about PIN Bureau services, or in hiring a PIN Bureau alum to boost engagement-driven reporting, should contact bureau chief Rebecca Blatt by email at, or by phone at 602.496.0297.

Joellen Easton Business Development Manager
Public Insight Network
Joellen Easton gets to chart the next mission for PIN: New ways to use the network for meeting information needs, with new partners and new technologies. All shiny objects cross her desk.

Her background is in anthropology, and she has produced for WGBH, PRI’s The World, and as a freelancer. She first worked with PIN at Marketplace as a PIN analyst for four years, and after that as partners manager for three years, leading the training and support team. She is degreed from Tufts and MIT.