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By Kristina Weder, ASU Insight
More than 1,200 invited guests joined Walter Cronkite in honoring one of the most revered journalists in American history, Tom Brokaw, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s 23rd annual luncheon in Phoenix Nov. 14.
Cronkite was greeted by the crowd with a standing ovation. The jovial 90-year-old spoke about Brokaw in a friendly manner.
“I should talk more about his (Brokaw’s) accomplishments, but quite honestly it bores me. … It’s a staggering list,” joked Cronkite.
Brokaw’s speech was preceded with a video featuring his most memorable news pieces, from Tiananmen Square to an interview with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, along with a short biography of the celebrated anchor.
Brokaw thanked Cronkite for the award – and for the privilege of calling him a friend. In his speech, the former NBC Nightly News anchor reminisced about humorous times with Cronkite, his life as a retired anchorman, the Iraq war and the “Greatest Generation,” all the while being very appreciative of the award.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to have an award with Walter’s name attached,” he said. “Thank you for the great honor.”
Before the award presentation, the Cronkite School’s dean, Christopher Callahan, inducted two respected alumni into the school’s Hall of Fame: Mary Kim Titla, a groundbreaking Native American journalist, and Susan Karis, a national radio executive.
Callahan also announced two new initiatives for the school, including a lecture series in honor of Paul J. Schatt, a Cronkite School professor for nearly 30 years before his death in 2005, and a $500,000 endowment given by Jack Clifford, founder of the Food Network, along with a pledge to raise $5 million for the school’s broadcast program.
”The endowment from Jack Clifford is the largest single gift from an individual in the history of the Cronkite School,“ Callahan said.
The luncheon guests included influential members of the community, such as Gov. Janet Napolitano, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman. Cronkite faculty and staff, and more than 100 Cronkite students, also were in attendance.
“The luncheon provides students with the opportunity to interact with Cronkite and his honorees,” said Marianne Barrett, associate dean of the Cronkite school.
Brokaw gave a small presentation before the Nov. 14 luncheon. The event was free and open for students to attend.
“I was in awe of how much he knows and how sharp he was,” said Catherine Spear, a Cronkite student who attended both of Brokaw’s appearances. “He was amazing.”