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Paul Schatt, an Arizona Republic editor who taught news reporting to hundreds of journalism students at Arizona State University over the past 30 years, died Friday. He was 60.
Schatt taught Reporting Public Affairs at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication since 1975. He was not teaching this semester because of health problems. He had heart surgery three weeks ago and was recovering at home.
His students, typically seniors specializing in print journalism, consistently praised Schatt for creating a highly practical course that improved their writing skills and gave them a keen understanding of the workings of local and state government.
Schatt imposed professional standards on his students. Missed deadlines and factual errors resulted in automatic failures. And he demanded that students regularly travel off campus to cover city, county and state governments and explore public records around the Valley.
Students’ only consistent complaint: the 7:40 a.m. start time for the twice-a-week course. The early morning time of the class, however, was necessary for Schatt to combine his teaching with his full-time job as a senior editor of The Arizona Republic.
Schatt joined the newspaper in 1962 as a copy boy while earning a degree in English and political science from ASU. During his 40-plus years at the Republic he served as city hall reporter, columnist, urban affairs editor, metro editor, magazine editor, associate editor and editorial page editor. Most recently he was opinions editor for the Southeast Valley sections.
“No one knew as much about state and city government - and all the key players - as Paul did,” said Bruce Itule, a longtime Cronkite School colleague. “He not only was a valued friend at the Republic but also an inspiration to the students who took Reporting Public Affairs from him.”
“And no matter what his job was at the Republic, he was never too busy to donate time to the Cronkite School and journalism students,” Itule said. “I always looked forward to seeing Paul in the early morning, before his class, because I could count on a smile, a great joke or two, and never an unkind word about anyone.”
Schatt also served on more than two dozen civic and professional boards throughout the Valley over the years, including the Arizona Club, the Barry Goldwater Institute, Kids Voting Inc. and the Arizona Zoological Society.
He had served as president of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, the Arizona Newspapers Foundation Board of Directors and the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
He lived in Phoenix with his wife, Laura, the former business manager of the Cronkite School who is now the recruitment coordinator for ASU’s Biodesign Institute.