Pitchfork Press

Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012

With Walter’s love

Cronkite interacts with his students

When selecting the winner of the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Cronkite Endowment Board takes many traits into account. But according to Liz Bernreuter, Director of Development at the Arizona State University Journalism school that bears Walter’s name, one factor stands apart from the rest.

“The person selected must be a journalist worthy of receiving the award. They must represent integrity, honesty and innovation,” Bernreuter said. “These are just some of the values that Cronkite stood for.”

The endowment board chooses the best nominee through holding many meetings throughout the year. They begin with an open discussion where they put each journalist mentioned on what they call the “long list.” Then, the group of nominees is narrowed down and put onto the “short list” where the future award winner is selected after discussions among the endowment board. As intricate as the selection process may be, Bernreuter believes that choosing the winner is easier than most people think.

“The last two years it has been pretty obvious, of who would be that next step. It hasn’t been too difficult. There is always some discussion but ultimately the committee comes back to the main criteria. They always think about Walter and whether he would be comfortable, happy, honorable and proud to be giving an award in his name to the individual,” Bernreuter said.

No matter how long it takes to find the right person, the students are kept in mind through the entire process.

“We always look for someone who has had the kind of career that will inspire our students and that measures up to Cronkite’s high journalistic standards. We want journalists who have made a difference and who represent the best of our industry,” Associate Dean of the Cronkite School of Journalism Kristin Gilger said.

The presentation of the Cronkite Award usually includes a question and answer session with students, an award luncheon and a tour of the Cronkite School. Dean and University Vice Provost, Christopher Callahan enjoys the student involvement the most.

“It is a great honor to present an award in Walter’s name, but the best part of the entire experience is the interaction between the award winner and the students,” Callahan said.

Bernreuter understands how the past winners view the Cronkite award and how much they enjoy their time at the ASU.

“What has been interesting to see is that the honoree’s have all won so many awards in their life time, but when they get here and they see the school, interact with the students, see the wonderful equipment and space we have here and program. They are taken back even more so. They are kind of blown away,” Bernreuter said.

The Cronkite Endowment Board Selected Bob Costas as the 2012 winner of the Cronkite Award. He is scheduled to accept the award on Oct. 30 at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Phoenix.

-Nathan Kolker, Web Editor

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