Nancy C. Barnes, senior vice president for news at National Public Radio, told new journalism graduates of Arizona State University on Tuesday they need to be prepared to celebrate change, not resist it.
Barnes was the keynote convocation speaker at the graduation ceremony for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix, where 313 students received degrees with more than 2,400 guests in attendance.
Barnes, who also has led newspapers in Houston, Minneapolis and Raleigh, North Carolina, said she entered journalism at a time of typewriters and dial-up landlines. Since then, both the technology that reporters use and the way audiences consume information have been transformed, she said, and the pace of change is only likely to accelerate.
“Success will depend on your ability to lean into change, to bravely and, indeed, happily, face the future, and not rage against it,” she said.
At the same time, she advised graduates to “hold fast to your principles and find your guiding compass amid all of this disruptive change.”
Journalists, she said, bear a heavy responsibility to “hold up our responsibilities to the First Amendment and (to) tell the American people not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear and to know to live in our free society.”
Barnes, who took the top news position at NPR last fall, also encouraged the graduates to live a “life of adventure.”
“Make it a spectacular one — one that when that blink of an eye comes and you are living in that future that looks like today’s science fiction, reflecting back on your lifetime, you will feel that it was a life to be proud of, a life that imbued you with hope, optimism, love and adventure,” she said.
Of the school’s 313 graduates, 292 received bachelor’s degrees, with 149 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication and 57 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism. Eighty-five students received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies. One student earned a new Bachelor of Science in Digital Audiences.
The Cronkite School also graduated 19 master’s degree students. Of those, 12 earned a Master of Journalism and Mass Communication, three received a Master of Arts in Sports Journalism and four a Master of Science in Business Journalism
Two students, Jamie Bowen and Kristin Pellizzaro, received doctoral degrees.
Student speaker Bryce Newberry reflected on the deep sense of community he and other students have experienced at Cronkite.
“We’re lucky to have gone to a school where we were a team,” he said. “Like any family, we inspire each other and lift each other up at every milestone.”
He encouraged fellow graduates to keep that spirit alive as they enter the workforce. “Do as you’ve done here … and celebrate everyone’s success.”
About half of the graduating class earned high academic honors. Seventy-one students graduated summa cum laude with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 40 graduated magna cum laude with GPAs of 3.6 to 3.79; and 36 graduated cum laude with GPAs of 3.4 to 3.59.
In addition, 24 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honors 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.
Seventeen students received the ASU Alumni Association’s Moeur Award, which is presented to graduates with the highest academic standing who have completed their degrees over eight consecutive fall and spring semesters at ASU.
Student award winners
Outstanding Graduate Student
Outstanding Journalism Dual-Degree Student
ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate
Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Outstanding Online Student
Highest Grade-Point Average in Journalism
Highest Grade-Point Average in Media Studies
Top Innovator Award
Cronkite Spirit Award
Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Gabriela Calles Monsivais
Jade Nicole Yeban