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Oregonian editor joins Cronkite School as visiting professor

headshot of Peter Bhatia
March 06, 2014

Peter Bhatia, the award-winning editor of The Oregonian in Portland, is joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics at Arizona State University.

Bhatia will start the yearlong appointment this summer, working with more than two dozen students from across the country in the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, an in-depth multimedia journalism experience based at Cronkite. In the fall semester, he will teach Journalism Ethics and Diversity.

“Peter Bhatia has been one of our era’s great editors. His extraordinary skills, values and experiences will be an enormous benefit to a new generation of journalists,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “We’re thrilled Peter will be helping to guide these aspiring young journalists through the complexities of creating strong, ethically sound journalism in the digital age.”

Bhatia has served as the top editor of Oregon’s largest news organization since 2010. Previously, he was the paper’s managing editor and executive editor, teaming with then-editor Sandra Mims Rowe. Rowe and Bhatia were named Editors of the Year by Editor & Publisher magazine in 2008. The Oregonian won five Pulitzer Prizes, journalism’s most coveted prize, during their tenure.

Bhatia was the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major daily newspaper in the U.S. He was inducted into the South Asian Journalists Association Hall of Fame in 2007, and was honored with an Asian American Journalists Association Pioneer in Journalism Award in 2004.

"Peter has done a terrific job of leading our journalists through the difficult transition to a digitally focused news organization," said N. Christian Anderson III, president and publisher of The Oregonian, who came to Portland in 2009 after serving as the Gaylord Professor. "We will miss him. Still, we recognize that this new opportunity means he will be helping develop the newsrooms of the future. I can't think of a better person to lend his experience and values to students who want to be part of this exciting profession."

Rowe, who served as the Gaylord Professor in 2012, said, "Peter Bhatia brings deep talent, decades of excellence in journalism leadership and a love of teaching to ASU's distinguished Cronkite School of Journalism. The school and its students will benefit greatly."

Bhatia is a native of Pullman, Wash., and graduated from Stanford University in 1975 before starting his journalism career as a reporter at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. He has also been deputy managing editor of The San Francisco Examiner, managing editor of the Dallas Times Herald, editor of The York (Pa.) Dispatch and Sunday News, and managing editor of The Sacramento Bee.

Bhatia has been a Pulitzer Prize juror six times, served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2003-04 and is current president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

“It is a great honor to have the opportunity to work with Dean Callahan, the accomplished faculty at the Cronkite School and its outstanding students,” Bhatia said. “The Cronkite School is a place of innovation and creativity that is focused on the future of journalism. After almost 40 years in newsrooms and countless amazing experiences, I’m excited to be part of the conversation there.”

Bhatia will join three other former editors of major metropolitan daily newspapers on the Cronkite School faculty, including former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., former Minneapolis Star Tribune Editor Tim McGuire and former Sacramento Bee Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez.

The Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professorship was created in 2006 through a generous gift from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Edith Kinney Gaylord started the Oklahoma City-based foundation in 1982 to foster high ethical standards in the industry. Ms. Gaylord, the daughter of Daily Oklahoman Publisher E.K. Gaylord, launched her journalism career at her father’s newspaper in 1937 after graduating from college. In 1942, she joined The Associated Press in New York. The following year, she went to the AP’s Washington bureau, where she covered the Roosevelt administration and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II.

Bhatia will be the eighth Gaylord Professor at Cronkite. Past Gaylord Professors include Anderson, Rowe, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor Ellen Soeteber, former Detroit Free Press Executive Editor Caesar Andrews, former Akron Beacon Journal Publisher Jim Crutchfield and former San Francisco Examiner Managing Editor Sharon Rosenhause.