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Former New York Times executive editor stresses importance of local journalism

Dean Baquet receives award alongside Bruce Pinkleton and Elizabeth Chilton
Dean Baquet receiving the Lfetime Achievement Award at the 47th Murrow Symposium on April 4, 2022.

Dean Baquet, an eminent reporter and editor who until recently served as the executive editor of the New York Times, received the Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism to conclude the first day of the Murrow Symposium.

Receiving the honor was especially significant, Baquet said, because of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication’s namesake and his lasting legacy as one of the profession’s heroes.  In interacting with college students during visits like these, Baquet said he leaves feeling energized and excited about the future of journalism.

During his remarks, Baquet emphasized the work he’s undertaken in the months after stepping down as the Times’ executive editor to lead its Local Investigative Times Fellowship program. Visiting established and emerging newsrooms in places like Jackson, Mississippi underscores the opportunities that exist for today’s reporters and the value of investigative reporting in communities eschewed by many in the media world.

“If journalism is to continue as a powerful force for independence and clarity, it will be at least in huge measure because of the work being done outside of New York and Washington, in places like the classrooms here,” Baquet said.

Each year, the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication hosts the Murrow Symposium, bringing together students, faculty, staff, alumni and subject matter experts to discuss topical issues within the fields of advertising, journalism, public relations, and communications. 

The theme of this year’s event is Legacy of Truth: Communication with Courage. Today’s events schedule, as well recordings of yesterday’s happenings, are available on the Murrow website.

Baquet received the award from WSU President Kirk Schulz, who was joined on stage by Elizabeth Chilton, chancellor of the WSU Pullman campus, and Bruce Pinkleton, dean of the Murrow College of Communication.

“Journalists play a critical role in the health of free societies by monitoring and tempering the influence of those in power, by observing those in government, business and other organizations and by holding them accountable for their actions and outcomes, journalists contribute to the flow of factual and accurate information free societies require,” Chilton said, noting that Murrow’s legacy of truth-telling stemmed from decades of dogged reporting and upholding these principals.

Following his remarks, Baquet fielded questions from Pinkleton, touching on topics including solutions reporting, the importance of rural reporting, and the tricky nature of objectivity.

Dean Baquet talking at Murrow Symposium
Dean Baquet received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 47th Murrow Symposium April 4, 2022.

Baquet’s career in journalism took him from the Times-Picayune in New Orleans to the New York Times. He previously served as executive editor of the paper from 2014 until June of last year and has also held the title of managing editor, national editor and Washington bureau chief during his tenure with the New York Times. He’s also held reporting and editing roles with the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Banquet has twice been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting, winning the award in 1988 for his part in documenting corruption within Chicago City Council.

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