More than 60 years after Warren Field graduated from ASU’s Cronkite School, he hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned as a student.
Those lessons guided Field through an Army career that lasted more than 40 years, allowing him to rise through the ranks as a U.S. Army officer and civilian. And he shares those same lessons with current Cronkite students and young journalists.
Field graduated from the Cronkite School in 1961 when the journalism program was known as the Department of Mass Communication. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Communication Related Programs, a minor in German and a commission as an Army Second Lieutenant through the ASU ROTC program. The program became an official school and took on Walter Cronkite’s name in 1984.
After graduation, his three years of experience at the State Press earned him a job at The Arizona Republic copy desk for the summer. He then traveled to Germany with a former State Press coworker to meet a mutual friend stationed in Munich with the U.S. Army.
When he returned in November 1961, he was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He went into public affairs and took charge of the Fort Leonard Wood newspaper before attending Defense Information School and deploying to Vietnam in 1964. He retired in 2006 after four decades of service as an Army officer and civilian, including two tours in Vietnam, two years in Taiwan and over 23 years in Germany, all in public affairs.
Q: What value did ASU’s journalism school add to your education and career?
A: I graduated from the ASU j-school when The State Press was in the basement of the student Memorial Union. The principles of journalism that I learned from Dr. Marvin Alisky, Art (Arthur) Matula and Bob (Robert) Lance stayed with me throughout my entire career.
The Fort Leonard Wood assignment sergeant sent me to the public affairs office. They put me in charge of the base newspaper. Well, I had just come off three years at The State Press. I was right in my element! And I had no trouble doing my job because I had the background.
What I learned from the j-school at ASU put me on the right path, and those principles worked for me throughout my entire career of over 43 years in Army Public Affairs.
Q: What skills or experiences from the Cronkite School did you use most throughout your career?
A: You can’t go wrong with the five Ws. The basics of journalism, just the basics. And how to construct a sentence. Where does the adjective go? Where does the punctuation go? You know how important that is? Sometimes it seems to be forgotten.
Q: Would you say your experience at Cronkite prepared you well for your career?
A: It set me on the right path. I never forgot what I learned at ASU in the j-school. And I used it.
What I learned really, really helped. And those principles of journalism enabled me to also write news releases for German news media. We lived in Germany for over 23 and a half years, and I worked with German media, both television and print, all that time. It doesn’t matter what language it is, the principles are the same. In the US, Vietnam, Taiwan and Germany, I worked with US and international media. And I was publishing base and unit newspapers and magazines. I had two tours in Vietnam, both as a public affairs officer, and in that case, I was dealing with the media, most of the time US media, but also publishing.
In the early days of my first tour, we published a daily news brief in Saigon. It was two pages, front and back news that we had gleaned from wire services and passed it out to troops on the field. That was in addition to Stars and Stripes. And then on my second tour, I was the officer in charge of the 25th Infantry Division newspaper. In Germany, I published newspapers for three different Army communities. What I learned at The State Press never went away.
Q: What is your advice to incoming Cronkite students? How about to those who are graduating soon?
A: It’s hard to figure out in today’s world, where you have an obstacle that we never had. No one ever called us “the enemy of the people.” No one ever said we were “fake news.” That’s what you’re faced with today. The only way you can counter that is to be sure of your facts.
Q: What inspires you to keep giving to your alma mater?
A: I came back from Germany in 2002 to Alexandria, Virginia, and I was there for two years before we came home to Arizona. I got an invitation from the dean at the time, Chris Callahan. He said, “We’re meeting at the old j-school and I’ll give you a tour.”
Chris Callahan invited (Field’s wife and fellow ASU grad) Barbara and me to lunch. I was not contributing to ASU until he invited Barbara and myself. He kept having these events and having us back, and we would go back and meet people. We would go to presentations and then the annual Cronkite Award and I said, “Hey, you know I’m part of the school still and I need to do something to give back.” So Barbara and I both gave back.
Had it not been for Chris Callahan and his reaching out to us old alumni, I doubt that I would have thought to contribute. But we contribute regularly now. And having Dean Batts, now it just continues. It was bringing us back in. Reaching out and bringing the old alumni back in.
I will contribute to the Cronkite School because, my God, if you don’t create more journalists we are in deep trouble.
Q: What would you say to other alumni who are interested in reconnecting with ASU or the Cronkite School?
A: Of course, individual alumni can always contact the school, but I didn’t. I mean ASU was 46 years ago before I got Dean Callahan’s invitation. And we didn’t get our ASU Golden Circle invitation until 2011 and that was from the ASU Alumni Association, not the Cronkite School. I think it’s up to the school to reach out to the alumni.