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Nancy Barnes, senior vice president for news at National Public Radio, will deliver the keynote speech at the spring 2019 convocation for students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The ceremony will be Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. at Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix. More than 300 students are expected to graduate.
Barnes oversees more than 400 NPR journalists across the U.S. and in 17 international bureaus. She also is the president of the American Society of News Editors and a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board.
Before joining NPR in 2018, she was the editor and executive vice president of news at the Houston Chronicle in Texas — the first woman to hold that position in the newspaper’s 112-year history. Her responsibilities included oversight of the Houston Chronicle Media Group, which includes several other daily Texas newspapers and dozens of weekly publications.
At the Chronicle, Barnes led the newsroom to a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2015, the newspaper’s first Pulitzer, for a series on a corrupt and abusive grand jury system. In addition, the newspaper was a Pulitzer finalist two other times during her tenure.
From 2007 to 2013, before joining the Chronicle, Barnes was an editor and senior vice president of the Star Tribune Company in Minneapolis. Her newspaper earned the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. She also spent 10 years as an editor for the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Barnes began her career as a reporter and editor at mid-sized newspapers in Massachusetts, Virginia and North Carolina.
“Nancy Barnes' career is an inspiration to our students,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “She is one of a handful of women who leads a major news organization in the U.S., and she is someone who leads with the absolute conviction that journalism must make a difference."
Barnes' career straddles broadcast, print and digital journalism. When she was appointed to lead NPR, she was asked whether someone with a newspaper background was equipped to lead a national radio enterprise. Barnes said the lines between those platforms are blurring. “I don’t think this is as radical as it would have been 18 years ago,” she said in the interview that aired last year on “All Things Considered.”
Barnes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international affairs from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina.