By Dolores Obregon
Planning and Communications Staff
Columbia, Mo. (May 5, 2011) — The Missouri School of Journalism will recognize its 503 May and August graduates during spring commencement ceremonies that will be held at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 13, in Mizzou Arena. Family and friends of the graduates do not need tickets to attend. Seating will be open.
Graduate degrees will be awarded to nine doctoral candidates and 51 master’s recipients, eight of whom earned their degree online.
Of the 443 undergraduate candidates, 166 studied strategic communication; 94, magazine journalism; 72, radio-television journalism; 53, convergence journalism; 31, print and digital news; and 27, photojournalism.
Overall, 171 of the graduating seniors will be recognized with Latin honors. These students have at least a 3.5 grade point average for their last 60 graded credit hours. The group includes 22 Walter Williams Scholars, a group named after the founding dean.
The top 10 percent of the School’s graduates will be inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a journalism honor society founded at the School in 1910 with the goal of uniting students of exceptional achievement from the nation’s leading schools of journalism and mass communication. The induction ceremony and reception will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Friday, May 13, in 100-A Reynolds Journalism Institute. This year’s inductees are:
|Kappa Tau Alpha Inductees|
The alumnus speaker will be Eduardo Ulibarri, MA ’76, who has served as the United Nations ambassador from Costa Rica since 2010 and since April 25, 2011, is chairman of its Committee on Information. Prior to his latest appointment, Ulibarri was editor-in-chief of La Nación, the country’s leading newspaper, for more than 20 years. He also has served as a tenured journalism professor at the University of Costa Rica as well as president of the Press and Freedom of Expression Institute and of Fundación Paniamor, an organization devoted to the promotion of the rights of children and young people in Costa Rica.
Ulibarri served as chairman of the committee on freedom of the press of the Inter American Press Association. A 1988 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, he has been a member of the boards of El Financiero, a business weekly newspaper, and of the Costa Rican National System for Higher Education Accreditation. Ulibarri has received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University and Costa Rica’s National Journalism Award, among other honors and recognitions.
The master of ceremonies will be Alex Rozier, a radio-television journalism major from Virginia, Minn. Rozier is a two-time regional Edward R. Murrow Award-winning reporter, a 2010 Emmy award winner and a 2010 grand prize winner of Project: Report, a worldwide contest for aspiring journalists underwritten by YouTube and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. At KOMU-TV he has worked as a dayside, live and features reporter, and a weekend anchor. Rozier is the founder and chief executive officer of “The Culture That Crawls” international documentary, a series shot in Suchitepequez, Guatemala. He is also an anchor for Newsy.com and has worked with KMOX, the CBS-radio affiliate in St. Louis and Fox Sports Net in Minneapolis. Rozier is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists.
The student graduation speaker will be Kyle Stokes, a convergence journalism major from Minneapolis. Stokes has filled multiple roles for the School’s professional newsrooms, reporting and producing for both KBIA-FM and KOMU-TV. He also was part of a team of journalism seniors to launch Project 573, a student-led multimedia project focusing on the regional economy. Stokes is the 2009 national winner of the Mark of Excellence Award for radio feature reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, which also has recognized his television work on the regional level. Stokes has served as president of the MU chapter of the Radio Television Digital News Directors Association and has coached speech and debate classes at Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School.
Further information about the commencement ceremonies is available from the MU Commencement website.
Eduardo Ulibarri, MA ’76
May 13, 2011
Thanks, Dean Mills, for giving me the honor and pleasure to be here. Three years after my last visit, to celebrate the J-School centennial and the official opening of the Reynolds Journalism Institute, I feel again at home.Dear graduates, happy and proud families and friends, dear faculty, ladies and gentlemen.35 years ago I was sharing, like each you, the thrill of graduation and the anxiety of a new professional life.Today, with pride and humbleness, I am here again, with some good memories to recall, some reflections to make and a little advice to provide. I hope I won
´t disappoint you.To properly frame my message, let me start with a four-point summary lead:
- You made the right decision in following your vocation and choosing your profession. We, journalists and communicators, are here to stay and move forward.
- Never cease asking, hearing, learning and searching. Life is a never-ending educational process.
- Consider that high tech without smart thought is worthless. Our major hardware is the brain; our key software, good reasoning.
- And bear in mind that if you try hard and make good, you will do well. In other words, connect actions with ethics.
With these ideas in mind, let me put my mind in flashback mode.
I am now in my first News and Editing lesson, in September of 1974, and Steve Weinberg, pencil in hand, starts setting my wrong English right, signaling the difference between “lane” and “line”, and deleting an intrusive “n” from the word “cemetery”. As you may imagine, we had just type-written an inverted-pyramid story about a bloody accident.
I recall John Merrill, my dear advisor, teacher and friend, raising my intellectual consciousness of the philosophical nature of freedom, and enhancing my dialectical resources for debate. I still cherish his challenging books as much as those by Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, Amartya Sen and Octavio Paz.
I go back to the library, where I spent long and delightful hours reading, thinking, writing and, at times, whispering; to the Columbia Missourian, where my stay was rather brief, and to so many other people, experiences, classes and places that nurtured me in J-School.
In another memorable scene, set on an evening of November, 1989, minutes before receiving the Missouri Medal for Distinguished Services in Journalism, I am watching, live on TV, thousands of Germans tumbling down the Berlin wall. At that time, an ominous chapter in history came to end. For an exiled Cuban like me, who had made Costa Rica home since 1966, that image was particularly strong.
1989, indeed, was the turning point of a new era for humanity; also, for journalism and communications.
Millions and millions of people started to be freed from political oppression, dismal economic planning and stiff social control. The forces of individual creativity gained momentum. Globalization was unleashed, hand in hand with the explosion of new technologies, new horizons and new markets.
In 1989, the world wide web was an infant technology harnessing an emerging communications network, the Internet. Being a newspaper editor at the time, I looked at it just with curiosity, not concern. But in the historical blink of two decades, Internet and remote connectivity have become the taken-for-granted foundations of a new universe of communications, relations, applications and action. Journalism and communication are deeply immersed in that universe.
This new era is the new order, as you know better than me.
With many questions still opened, the new era is also gaining momentum in other areas of the world. Just look at North Africa and the Middle East. There, young idealists armed with cell phones have paralyzed perplexed soldiers armed with tanks; the spread of social networks has unveiled and, at times, stopped repression, and concealed aspirations have flourished under the spell of text messages.
Looking at so many changes, so many experiences, so many memories, so many challenges and to my life in communication and education, I can reflect on this new era with some detachment.
In 2003, after 21 years as editor-in-chief of La Nación, Costa Rica´s major daily, I became an independent consultant on communication strategies, moved more deeply into the academic world, and devoted more time to write op-ed pieces and essays, without the burden of representing my newspaper. But then, in August of last year, I started representing my country to the United Nations.
So, today I talk to you from the crossroads of journalism and diplomacy.
It is less awkward and complicated than may seem.
Both journalism and diplomacy are professional exercises based on selecting issues, clarifying reality, gathering facts, contrasting versions, making judgments, analyzing decisions, coming to conclusions, and communicating results in crisp and, ideally, well-documented, convincing and compelling ways.
I try to do this every day at the UN. By conveying the results of my work to a few Costa Rican officers and fellow ambassadors, I am now in the business of targeted communications. By clarifying objectives, identifying challenges, framing messages and planning action, I perform as a communication strategist. And by answering media requests for information, I act as a source. So, here I am, a multi-tasking professional, when I least imagined so.
The release of loads of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, in past November, can lead to contradictory conclusions. But most people agree that those cables, to a great extend, disclosed the similarities between diplomacy and journalism. Bill Keller, managing editor of The New York Times, recently quoted an unnamed British colleague as saying: “Who knew that American diplomats could write?” Well, their small audience at the State Department certainly did. And now, their unwelcomed big audiences through the world also know.
I can proudly add that my journalism education, experience, thinking, writing and teaching have eased my move into the world of multilateral diplomacy. Journalism has allowed me to fluently develop a new professional path.
In the future you will face many more changes than me. I think you will be ready. The most encouraging thing today is not that you are graduating and, therefore, being officially declared as communication strategists, journalists with different emphasis, masters or PhDs. What is more important is that you carry a well-organized set of knowledge, skills, training, thinking, research and trade instruments for dealing with reality and tackling challenges and opportunities.
Disregard the prophets of doom: communications, and journalism as part of it, are not expiring as a profession or a major industry. However, they are certainly going through major changes and instability; also dangers. Be also careful of the happy preachers of the latest, coolest trends and easiest tools, because they may vanish as quickly as a tweet.
For you, it is time to set your compass on hope, but also on a deep commitment to intelligent thinking, critical reasoning, endless imagination and responsible decisions.
Your diploma may last a lifetime, but part of your knowledge may soon lose relevance; part of it will be contradicted or become irrelevant. So, give knowledge constant fine-tuning, support and development. Foster understanding, curiosity and an intelligent engagement with yours and other people’s life; with politics, economics, science, the environment, arts, fun and, of course, technology.
I won’t go through the usual repertoire of new media, new applications, new gizmos and the litany of obvious comments about them. New media, new applications and new gizmos are here, for good and, at times, for bad. They have always existed, although in different form, since human beings started building tools to interact with nature and people.
The new technological instruments have made change faster, deeper and wider. At the same time, they have made us more conscious of the speed and nature of change, of its impact and consequences. This explains the era of anxiety we now live in.
As journalists and communicators, we should prepare ourselves to deal with the transformations that will always surround us. Today, the code words may be Twitter, apps, data mining, data management and data sharing; the key instruments may be tablets or smartphones. Tomorrow, reality, key words and key instruments will be different. To face them, we will need more brains than bits. We will need to develop more the ability to observe, analyze, feel, construct and create, than the skill to twiddle our thumbs or write just with consonants.
For me, the major challenges that communications in general, and journalism in particular, are facing, don’t come directly from new media. They come from new social practices and norms, new economic realities, and new political and civic processes. To a great extent, those challenges have been ignited and amplified by technology, new economics and new media; however, the course they have taken is more a matter of human options, decisions and relations, than of technological determinism. So, try to be always aware of what’s happening in society.
News and content will always be influenced by external factors, such as formats, time-cycles, narrative styles, message structures, ideology, history, traditions and, of course, the nature of media and the use we make of them, as individuals or groups.
The key issue is how to move those dynamics into a direction compatible with good journalism, relevant communication, democratic engagement, responsible governments, professional accountability, individual ideals and social relations.
Among the major challenges are how to reconnect the successful business of journalism with the mission of responsible journalism; how to explore out-of-the-box options for organizing, supporting and leveraging good journalism and good journalists; how to make people conscious of the importance of relevance in communications; how to tie the effectiveness of targeted marketing with the respect for privacy, the hectic pace of information with the more sober nature of knowledge, the desire for hyper-individual news feeds with the need for a common civic conversation; the fun of creation with the ethics of communication.
These are all challenges that, although related to changing technology, must be faced keeping in mind permanent human values and strong intellectual processes. They also demand solid, relevant, well supported and well spread research, as the Reynolds Journalism Institute does.
On a more personal note, the challenges we are facing will require from us to work hard and make good without sacrificing our own private lives and the sheer fun of our profession. I assure you that they can be compatible.
In 1859, English writer Charles Dickens wrote one of the best lead paragraphs in the history of literature. It opens his novel A Tale of Two Cities, with these words:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”
Contradictory? Enigmatic? No doubt. But such was his time; such have been most other times; such is our time.
The good news is that you are ready to face it, from the right profession, from the right education, from the right values. From the right “you,” I hope, as good human beings.
Congratulations and good luck.
Kyle Stokes, BJ ’11
May 13, 2011
When we were all kids, I’m willing to bet that at least 99 percent of us let our imaginations run away from us. Our friends dreamed of being firemen and ballerinas, while we laid out our first spreads with crayons and construction paper. We spent hours using hairbrushes as microphones. We fell in love with our first toy cameras. We made hour after embarrassing hour of home video insisting we were on TV. Our friends imagined futures as Superman; we imagined futures as Clark Kent.So we came to Mizzou, to the world’s best journalism school. The world was our oyster.
Then Professor Jen Reeves came in, armed with her dreaded iPhone, and informed us all we all have to be able to produce our own stories, write for the Web, take photos, tweet, Facebook, stand on our heads and do magic tricks — no matter what emphasis area we’re in. It turns out our futures look less like Clark Kent’s and more like Superman’s after all. But after four years of standing on our heads, I’m willing to bet that at least 99 percent of us imagine a much more simple future for ourselves — no Clark Kent, no Superman — just a goal that’s much more general, if more difficult to achieve: We imagine a world in which we make a difference — something not easily achieved outside those doors, where imagination, at times, feels like it’s at a premium.
This is the part of my speech where I’m supposed to say that we have the grit ‘n gumption to go out there and make that difference, but I’m not going to do that. Because it would ignore a very critical fact about this group — a critical fact, but a simple one: We have been making a difference. We don’t have bright futures; we have bright presents. And before we leave this place today, we need to celebrate that.
Mizzou takes imagination seriously, so seriously, that it turns it into something real. Mizzou takes your hand and says, “Okay, imagine yourself as an ad exec, or a print designer, or a TV newsman. Now…Go. Here are the tools. Make it happen.” That’s the Missouri Method, right. Don’t just imagine doing journalism, do it. Don’t just imagine making a difference — make it.
And we have made a difference. Just think: During this group’s time here, we worked with international ad clients and in the most prestigious of the country’s public relations firms. We contributed to the finest newsrooms around the world, from New York to Europe to China. We’ve won recognition from Hearst, from the Associated Press, from the Carnegie-Knight Initiative, from Pulitzer, and that’s just a short list. We’ve earned student design awards, SPJ awards, Murrow Awards, photography awards…and even an internship in the White House. I don’t hold this up as evidence of talent, because I don’t need to convince anyone in this room that we all have remarkable talents. I hold this up, because I look to you all for proof that the industry we love is in for something big — and yes, something good. But when? Years from now? Miles down the road? When we grow grow up?
Well, here’s a scary thought:
What about — now? Here? No sooner than we leave this place.
I do believe in the profession of journalism. And I believe because of the imagination right here in this room. Because of the people I’m so fortunate to call my friends, my colleagues, my peers, my mentors. So now…now that we’re loose on the world…finally members of the alumni group called the Mizzou Mafia…just imagine all that we can do.
Updated: May 29, 2020