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Cronkite Celebrates Career and Impact of Longest-Serving Journalism Professor

March 5, 2020

John Craft will be retiring at the end of the spring semester. To honor his contributions to the school and journalism profession, the Cronkite School is establishing a scholarship in his honor.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will soon say farewell to its longest-serving faculty member, John Craft, who has been guiding students for nearly five decades.

Craft, who has been with the Cronkite School for more than 46 years, will retire at the end of the spring semester, leaving behind a legacy of influence on thousands of graduates, many of whom have gone on to successful broadcast careers.

Since 1973, Craft has taught a range of broadcast courses, from production, direction, station operations and announcing to programming, sales and management. In addition, he has taught students documentary production and the history of broadcast journalism, and for 12 years he was the director of graduate studies for the school. He also is the curator of the Cronkite Gallery, a rich collection of historical journalism memorabilia at the Cronkite School.

Craft’s passion for broadcast history is captured in a book he co-wrote with Lisa Honebrink, “Phoenix Television: Images of America,” published last year. The book chronicles the colorful history of television in Phoenix, beginning in 1949. He also is the lead author of a major textbook on American electronic media and a major contributor to a second textbook on corporate video, and the producer of award-winning documentaries on Route 66 in Arizona, which have been aired around the world.

Craft’s most important contributions, however, have been in the classroom, said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. Since 2006 alone, he has taught 674 students in 51 classes over 26 semesters.

“His teaching has inspired generations of students to pursue broadcast and documentary careers,” Callahan said. “Newsrooms across Arizona and well beyond are filled with his former students, who learned their crafts – and their ideals – from him.”

To honor his many contributions to the school and the profession, the Cronkite School is establishing the Professor John E. Craft Scholarship in Electronic Media. The scholarship will be established initially as an annual award, with the intention to convert the fund to a permanent endowment if it reaches $25,000. Alumni and friends wishing to make a tribute gift in support of this new scholarship in John’s honor may do so here.

“I want to help the student who has the desire and has the ability but may not have the financial resources,’’ Craft said. “When I went to school it didn’t cost very much … now with the cost, you almost have to have some support system to buy rent and buy food and buy tuition all at the same time. I want to help.”

Looking back over nearly 47 years in ASU classrooms, so much has changed, from the facilities to the technologies. What hasn’t changed is the connection with students.

“Over the years, I’ve developed some good friendships with people who used to be students of mine,” Craft said. “What you remember are the people. You remember the individuals, and some have done very, very well. You hope you had something to do with that.”

Craft earned a master’s degree in radio and television and a doctorate of philosophy in mass communication at Ohio University. Early in his career, he was an instructional television programming coordinator at Ohio University and director of educational television at Hancock County Schools in West Virginia, where he developed a first-of-its-kind instructional television programming for students and distribution of community programming via cable television. Previously he worked in a number of broadcast positions at WOUB-TV in Athens, Ohio, and earned production credits as director of staging and lighting for a number of nationally distributed television programs.

Beyond the classroom and the TV studio, Craft gave back to the industry through involvement in numerous professional organizations. He served two terms as a national trustee of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and served for nearly 20 years on the board of governors of its Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter, serving as president and acting as a presenter at the annual regional Emmy events. He was inducted in 2012 into the Gold Circle Society of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter, which recognizes 50 years of outstanding service to the industry.

Craft also was a member of the board and served as president of the International Television Association, and was on the board and was treasurer of an Arizona cable television professional organization. He has been active in the Broadcast Education Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Visual Communication Association.

“It’s been an interesting and exciting ride,” Craft said.