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Costas accepts Cronkite Award

October 30, 2012

Award-winning sportscaster Bob Costas praised the “timeless virtues” exemplified by Walter Cronkite as he accepted the 2012 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism at Arizona State University Tuesday.

“Even … if the means of communication changes, what matters is the quality of the presentation and the reliability of the information,” he said.

Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, presented Costas with the 29th annual award, given each year by the school to recognize a distinguished journalist who embodies the values of the school’s namesake – excellence, integrity, accuracy, fairness and objectivity.

“Walter started his career as a sportscaster, and he was a tremendous admirer of Bob’s work,” Callahan said. “Bob has set the standard for sports broadcasting, and he truly inspired our students during his visit to Walter’s school.”

Costas was honored at a luncheon attended by nearly 1,100 students, media leaders, business executives, civic leaders and Cronkite School supporters at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.  

At the luncheon, Costas encouraged students to hold fast to the standards set by Cronkite.

“The dedication to truth, to fairness, to quality – that’s what Walter Cronkite was about, (and) that’s what I hope the young people in this room and at this university are taking to heart,” he said.

Costas, who interviewed Walter Cronkite on his late-night interview program “Later with Bob Costas,” said it was “exciting and tremendously humbling” to receive recognition that bears Cronkite’s name.  

“This is an honor that is hard to understate,” Costas said. “Everyone in broadcasting reveres Walter Cronkite.”

Costas joins the ranks of past award recipients including TV journalists Christiane Amanpour, Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw; newspaper publishers Katharine Graham, Al Neuharth and Otis Chandler; television executives William Paley, Frank Stanton and Ted Turner; and newspaper journalists Ben Bradlee, Helen Thomas and Bob Woodward.

Prior to the luncheon, Cronkite students gathered in the school’s First Amendment Forum for a question-and-answer session with Costas hosted by Associate Professor Joseph Russomanno.

Costas advised students to distinguish themselves as journalists by taking advantage of every opportunity to develop their craft.

“Good work is what’s going to set you apart,” he said. “Be willing to go to the 126th (media) market just to learn your craft and put another notch on your resume.  

Costas, a 24-time Emmy Award winner, currently hosts NBC’s “Football Night in America” studio show. He also co-hosts NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Open, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and serves as primetime host of the network’s coverage of the Olympic Games. In addition, he is the host of MLB Network’s “Studio 42 with Bob Costas” and serves as lead play-by-play announcer for the network’s “Thursday Night Baseball” games.

He has been honored a record eight times as “Sportscaster of the Year” by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association and was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame in June of this year.