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12 News Anchor Joins ASU to Lead Cronkite News Borderlands Team

June 5, 2017

Vanessa Ruiz, a lead anchor on 12 News in Phoenix and an award-winning bilingual correspondent for national and regional TV news outlets in Miami and Los Angeles, is joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University announced today.

The 12 News anchor will direct the borderlands coverage team at Cronkite News, the student-produced, faculty-led news division of Arizona PBS, and help lead the new Spanish-language newscast, Cronkite Noticias. She also will be working on special productions at Arizona PBS, the nation’s seventh-largest PBS station, which is licensed to ASU and operated by the Cronkite School.

Ruiz, who will start Aug. 1, will hold the faculty rank of professor of practice.

Ruiz came to Phoenix, the 12th largest TV market in the country, in 2015 as the co-anchor of the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts on 12 News, Phoenix’s NBC affiliate, with veteran anchor Mark Curtis. The KPNX team won the 2016 Best Newscast Emmy Award from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Ruiz, who currently is co-anchor of the station’s 4 p.m. “First at 4” newscast, also has been a correspondent at KNBC 4 in Los Angeles and served as a news anchor for Telemundo and TV Marti.

"I am thrilled and honored to be joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation,” Ruiz said. “For some time now, I have wanted my life's mission to be helping others be the best they can be, and with this incredible opportunity I will be able to do just that.

“I look forward to helping aspiring English and Spanish language journalists propel our profession forward. At the same time, Arizona PBS will give me the opportunity to continue to practice the craft I love. I am incredibly proud to be joining a university that values inclusion, diversity and access for all. It is important for me to give everyone a chance to pursue their dreams through education, and I am very excited to be a part of ASU's mission."

At Cronkite, Ruiz will direct a team of advanced journalism students at Cronkite News, focused on coverage of the U.S.-Mexico border region and Latino issues and culture across Arizona.

Cronkite News, with bureaus in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles, includes a nightly newscast on Arizona PBS, which reaches 1.9 million households across the state, and a mobile-engaged digital news site at cronkitenews.azpbs.org. The school’s rapidly expanding daily news operation serves as an immersive and innovative learning laboratory for students and provides Arizonans with daily news coverage of critical issues.

Ruiz also will help lead Cronkite Noticias, a weekly Spanish-language newscast that airs on the Univision-operated UniMás channel, and the digital Cronkite Noticias website.

“Vanessa is a fantastic, fully bilingual journalist who is passionate about teaching and growing the next generation of great journalists,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School and CEO of Arizona PBS. “She will inspire our students and serve as a role model. We’re delighted that she will be an integral part of Cronkite News and a key leader of our growing Spanish-language news programming.”

Ruiz started her career in Miami in 2001 as a writer and associate producer for Telemundo, the national Spanish-language TV network. She found herself playing a key role in Telemundo’s coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which earned her special recognition from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Ruiz worked her way up, becoming Telemundo’s youngest news anchor on a network reaching millions of Spanish-language viewers across the U.S. She interviewed the heads of state of Israel, El Salvador, Ecuador and Peru.

In 2005 she moved to WSVN, the FOX station in Miami, as a reporter covering a wide range of stories, including hurricanes, the Haiti earthquake, the BP oil spill and Super Bowl XLI.

Six years later, she became an anchor for TV Marti, the Miami-based broadcast outlet operated by the U.S. government to provide news to Cuba.

During her time at TV Marti, she was honored by the Broadcasting Board of Governors with the 2013 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award for exceptional integrity, bravery and originality in reporting for her coverage of the Venezuelan elections. She also anchored the U.S. presidential elections in 2012.

She joined KNBC 4 in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest TV market, in 2014 as a correspondent for the station’s morning show, “Today in L.A.”

John Misner, a new Cronkite professor and special adviser to Arizona PBS, helped recruit Ruiz to Phoenix when he served as president and general manager of 12 News.

"The special journalistic talents that I recognized when recruiting Vanessa to 12 News will translate extremely well to her new role at Cronkite as she shares her television and digital expertise with our students, inspiring them and serving as an important role model,” Misner said. “I’m thrilled to be working with Vanessa again at both Cronkite and Arizona PBS.”

Ruiz will be part of the ASU Southwest Borderlands Initiative. The borderlands initiative, created in 2001 to enhance research and teaching focused on the Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico border, has more than two dozen faculty members across a wide array of disciplines. She will join Cronkite’s Southwest Borderlands Professor Rick Rodriguez, the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors.

Born in Miami, Ruiz grew up in Colombia with her grandparents before returning to Miami and then attending high school in Spain. She is a graduate of Florida International University.