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The chief operating officer of Republic Media told the newest graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University that accuracy and integrity are critical in the new era of digital communications.
John Misner, Republic Media COO and general manager of 12 News/KPNX-TV, was the keynote speaker at the Cronkite School's fall convocation ceremony Monday at the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, where 118 students received bachelor’s degrees and 15 received master’s degrees.
Misner, an ASU graduate, played a key leadership role in the merger of three news platforms — television, newspaper and online — at Republic Media, the largest media organization in Arizona. He told more than 750 guests that the rise of social media has created greater demands on multimedia journalists to perform at high levels.
“The need to quickly publish on social media has created new pressure for journalists to get it right before getting it first,” he said. “… And sometimes, this work requires that you ignore the velocity of the story and put the brakes on and make sure you’re treating all parties fairly and factually.”
Misner, the outgoing president of the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees, a board of top local media leaders who advise the school, shared stories of completing his ASU degree later in life and competing in the grueling Ironman Arizona triathlon.
“Why do I mention Ironman?” he said. “Because I think it’s analogous to what you’ve just done. That is: You’ve completed an arduous race in order to cross the finish line and grab your diploma.”
Marianela Lichtscheidl of Newhall, Calif., was the student speaker. While at Cronkite, she interned for USA Today and participated in Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s award-winning newscast that reaches 1.4 million households on Arizona PBS four nights a week. Lichtscheidl pointed out that she had to stand on a box to reach the podium as she’s only 4 feet 11 inches tall. People will make assumptions based on appearance or other superficial factors, she told her fellow graduates, but that shouldn’t be the last word.
“Go out there and shock the world,” she said. “Don’t let anyone prescribe your life’s goals and achievements. You should define who you are and who you want to be.”
In the fall graduating class, 11 students achieved summa cum laude status with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 16 graduated magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.79 GPA); and 16 graduated with cum laude honors (3.4 to 3.59 GPA).
In addition, 13 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. The top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted into the society each semester.
Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan noted the group’s accomplishments, which include more than 100 awards in broadcast journalism, digital and print journalism and public relations.
“You are a truly remarkable group of young women and men, and Walter would be very, very proud of you,” Callahan said. “We believe in your abilities and your dreams. And we are confident you will be leaders in the complex and ever-changing world of digital communications.”
STUDENT AWARD WINNERS
Outstanding Graduate Student
Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Highest Grade Point Average
Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society