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Longtime Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. told the newest graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication that they will be the ones to shape the future of journalism.
“You can see the future of news taking shape – and some of you can already see the roles you will play in it,” he said.
Downie, who joined the Cronkite School earlier this year as the Weil Family Professor of Journalism, was the keynote speaker at the Cronkite School’s 2009 fall convocation, held at the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium Dec. 18.
Seventy-eight students received bachelor’s degrees and 18 were awarded master’s degrees during the ceremony.
Downie said the ways in which news is reported are being reinvented and news itself is being redefined. This “tumultuous transformation” jeopardizes what Downie calls accountability reporting – aggressive and reliable reporting that challenges institutions and people in power.
Downie, who oversaw projects at the Post ranging from Watergate to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center investigation, urged students to use the cutting-edge skills they learned at the Cronkite School to do meaningful journalism.
“You have the skills, talent, training and experience to make a difference – if you really want to,” he said.
Student convocation speaker Andre Radzischewski, who also had the highest grade point average in the class, said he’s looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“Easy times don’t always make for the most excitement,” he said. “This is the fun stuff we’re doing.”
Radzischewski, who moved to the United States from West Berlin when he was 17, said he’s confident that the skills he and his fellow graduates have learned at the Cronkite School will be invaluable no matter what they end up doing.
Cronkite graduates seemed to agree.
“This feels exciting,” said Adriana Vizcaino, who received her bachelor’s degree. “I’m ready to begin my career as a journalist.”
Christopher Cameron, one of the first graduates of the school’s full-time professional master’s program, said he leaves with a sense of accomplishment but also sadness.
“It was a really short trip that ended too quickly,” he said.
Student award winners were:
Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Highest Grade Point Average
Outstanding Graduate Student
Inductees into Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society