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Knight President warns Cronkite grads about online freedom of speech


Alberto Ibarguen speaking at a podium
May 17, 2014

The president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation warned the newest Arizona State University graduates at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication that online freedom of speech is at risk.

“It is troubling that we could end up with a licensing of speech on the Internet, unless we firmly establish, while still at the beginning of Internet age, that the applicable law should be like that of newspapers,” Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president and CEO, told 255 graduating students and nearly 1,700 guests during the Cronkite School’s spring convocation ceremony May 15. “In other words, that we are free to speak, not free to be allowed to speak.”

During his keynote speech, Ibargüen unveiled a new $250,000 grant for Cronkite graduates to advance innovation in newsrooms across the country. The fund would offer up to $15,000 to any Cronkite alumnus working in a newsroom who wanted to advance digital reporting and storytelling.

“This means you’ll have two big clubs to cause disruption,” he said. “One, you’ll have an idea, and two, you’ll have the money to pull it off.”

Student speaker Kelly Andersen of Silver Spring, Maryland, shared an inspirational story on surviving a serious car accident during her freshman year while fighting to pursue her education in the face of adversity.

“When I look at the scars from the accident now, I don’t see a painful memory,” Andersen said. “I see a community that held me up when I couldn’t walk on my own. Cronkite is always going to be here for all of us.”

Andersen told her fellow graduates to take control of their lives as they leave the Cronkite School. “At the end of the day, you’re the only person that can write your own story,” she said.

In the spring graduating class, 36 students achieved summa cum laude status with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 37 graduated magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.79 GPA); and 53 graduated with cum laude honors (3.4 to 3.59 GPA).

In addition, 21 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honor 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.

Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan said more than half the students graduated with high honors. “It’s been a privilege to call you Cronkite School students,” he said, “and it will be an honor to call you Cronkite School alumni.”

Student Award Winners

Outstanding Graduate Student

Rachel Leingang

ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate

Mauro Whiteman

Outstanding Undergraduate Students

Caitlin Cruz

Harmony Huskinson

DiAngelea Millar

Connor Radnovich

Gabriela Rodiles

Jacob Stein

Highest Grade Point Average

Jeffrey Marshall

Cronkite Spirit Award

Torunn Sinclair

Robert Soares

Moeur Award

Lauren Basile

Ellen Kuni

Katie Kunkel

Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society

Lauren Basile

Kailin Biggerstaff

Elizabeth Blackburn

Joshua Chesler

Austin Controulis

Caitlin Cruz

Ryan Foote

Brittany Hargrave

Harmony Huskinson

Ellen Kuni

Katie Kunkel

Jeffrey Marshall

Valerie Nunez

Kyle Renick

Kelsey Roderique

Genevieve Roublick

Jacob Stein

Cassandra Strauss

Clarissa Tapia

Mauro Whiteman

Emily Wininger

Student Speaker

Kelly Andersen