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Rick Rodriguez, the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and one of the nation’s most prominent Latino journalists, will deliver the keynote address at the fall 2007 convocation for graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
The ceremony will be held Dec. 14 at Grady Gammage Auditorium on ASU’s Tempe campus.
Rodriguez was the top editor at the Bee, one of the 10 largest daily newspapers in the West, from 1998 until his resignation last month. He plans to return to The McClatchy Co., which owns the newspaper, as a consultant to the vice president for news.
Rodriguez was the first Latino to serve as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and has been one of the nation’s most prominent Latino newsroom executives. He is widely known as a relentless journalist whose nine-year tenure as editor saw the Bee win nearly every major journalism award, including the Pulitzer Prize.
A native of Salinas, Calif., Rodriguez graduated from Stanford University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
He was only 18 when he began his career with his hometown newspaper, The Salinas Californian. One of his first assignments was interviewing legendary farm labor leader Cesar Chavez, and he later said reporting on Chavez’s career was among his proudest achievements as a reporter.
Rodriguez worked for another McClatchy newspaper, The Fresno Bee, before joining the Sacramento Bee in 1982 as a political writer. He was the Bee’s managing editor for five years before being named executive editor. Both in his newsroom and as president of ASNE, Rodriguez was known as a champion of watchdog journalism.
Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan said Rodriguez is exactly the kind of journalist who can most inspire Cronkite graduates. “I can’t think of anyone who is a better role model for the next generation of journalists,” he said. “Rick’s entire career is a lesson in courage, dedication and a commitment to journalistic principles.”
The speaker for the Cronkite School’s May convocation was former CNN anchor Aaron Brown.