CBS anchor Bob Schieffer told ASU students on Tuesday that the road for newspapers is beginning to go uphill, but that doesn't mean the journalism field is dying.
Schieffer spoke to students and media professionals about the future of journalism before accepting the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, an annual award presented to groundbreaking journalists.
“We are in the midst of a communication revolution,” he said. “The need for journalists is greater than ever."
Walter Cronkite himself presented the award to previous recipients, including CBS legends, William Paley and Frank Stanton. Since his death in 2009, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has continued to present the award, with recent recipients including sports broadcaster Bob Costas and international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
The luncheon took place at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.
Already a recipient of six Emmy awards and two Sigma Delta Chi awards, Schieffer is a longtime correspondent of CBS news with 56 years of reporting experience. He is moderator of “Face the Nation,” the network’s Sunday public affairs broadcast, as well as CBS’ chief Washington correspondent.
Journalism students had the opportunity to attend the luncheon and watch Schieffer receive the award.
To receive an invitation the luncheon, students had to attend events such as the Must See Mondays series of lectures and Cronkite Night at the Movies, and blog about their experiences. The more events they attended, the higher the chance they would be selected.
Journalism freshman Serena Zhang said this opportunity was easily accessible.
“I thought it was very easy to get a chance to go to this luncheon,” she said. “It is something that I think every student should have looked into."
Journalism freshman Hattie Hayes said she was volunteering at Cronkite NewsWatch moments before Schieffer walked in for an interview when she heard the news that she had been selected to attend the luncheon.
“When I got the email, I was initially surprised,” she said. “I hadn’t attended many of the Must See Mondays or movie nights because of prior engagements, and I still got a ticket."
Hayes said Schieffer was inspirational to her.
“He makes me want to be a better journalist,” she said.
Christopher Callahan, the school's dean, opened the ceremony with a tribute to Schieffer that included a seven-minute video depicting highlights of his career.
Upon receiving the award, Schieffer gave a short inspirational speech to journalists.
“You must be and should be proud of what has been accomplished here at the Walter Cronkite School,” he said.
Schieffer said although there is more access to information, that doesn’t mean it is always accurate.
“The question isn’t whether or not we will have newspapers in the future, but what content will be in newspapers,” he said.
Schieffer closed the ceremony with a humorous anecdote about how he and Cronkite out-scooped Barbara Walters for an exclusive interview with President Gerald Ford. Walters made everyone on Ford’s staff promise that they would not let anyone but her interview Ford.
“I asked them if Cronkite was allowed to at least shake Ford’s hand, and they allowed (it),” Schieffer said. “He brought a television crew in and asked Ford if (he) was planning on taking his flu shot.”
Schieffer said the “exclusive interview” was aired later that night on CBS.
Schieffer also gave some final advice to journalism students.
"Journalism is not about scratching the surface," he said. "It is about going underneath the surface and finding the truth."
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