Charlie Rose’s actions do not reflect excellence in journalism

The State Press Editorial Board calls for Rose to be stripped of his Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism

At The State Press, excellence is measured by the journalism we produce, the ethical standards we adhere to in and out of the newsroom and our ability to collaborate and function as the voice of ASU. We produce our best content when we work together.

And we think that journalists in every newsroom — and people in general — should be held to those same standards.

Every year, the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees, an advisory board of local media leaders, helps select a journalist to spotlight with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. The prestigious award celebrates those who made a meaningful and lasting journalistic impact.

In 2015, the 32nd Cronkite Award went to Charlie Rose, the former anchor of “CBS This Morning” and host of “Charlie Rose” on PBS. But on Monday, allegations of sexual harassment were made public by The Washington Post when eight women came forward with their experiences. His employment with both PBS and CBS was terminated.

As an independent voice of ASU, The State Press Editorial Board believes we must be proactive in calling for Rose’s award to be revoked. Rose’s actions impede the production of good journalism and threaten the public’s unstable trust in the media.

On Monday, we reported that the University was evaluating Rose’s receipt of the award and that his shows were pulled from Arizona PBS, which operates in the same building as the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

Read more: Cronkite will review Charlie Rose's reception of its top award following sexual misconduct allegations

The SPJ Code of Ethics states that “an ethical journalist acts with integrity” and “ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.”

These standards extend beyond reporting. When Rose failed to meet these expectations, he compromised the integrity of his newsroom and therefore debased the journalism that could have been created. His actions limited the freedom with which these women could advance their careers.

Rose does not exemplify the “excellence in journalism” referenced by the Cronkite Award. His inappropriate actions were forced upon colleagues in and out of the workplace.

Rose isn’t who we thought he was when he was awarded in 2015. But the ethical standards valued by The State Press aren’t new. 

A special committee “representing Cronkite deans, faculty, board members, alumni and students” was called for discussion by Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, according to an email he sent Tuesday. Callahan is also a University vice provost, the CEO of Arizona PBS and a member of the Cronkite Endowment Board.

“I will use the group’s conversation, in turn, to help inform my discussion and recommended course of action to our Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees,” Callahan wrote in the email. “I hope this puts into place a process for thoughtful conversation as well as quick action. We plan to have a decision by the end of this week.”

When Rose was awarded in October 2015, he said his personal success came from working alongside his peers, referring to his colleagues as his “heroes” and “the best people” in his profession.

But the allegations made do not reflect those words. The way journalists conduct themselves should reinforce credibility and trustworthiness, especially at a time when the public’s faith in the media is at a historic low. Every action matters. 

We have no interest in changing the past or criticizing the decision to give the award to Rose in 2015. But there is now new information available.

The special committee should revoke Rose’s Cronkite Award. 


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