Kent State Presents 2013 McGruder Award for Media Diversity to News Anchor
Russ Mitchell, managing editor of evening news and lead anchor of the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on WKYC Channel 3 News in Cleveland, has been named the 2013 winner of the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University. The award recognizes the accomplishments of media professionals who encourage diversity in the field of journalism.
Betty Lin-Fisher, an 18-year veteran of the Akron Beacon Journal, was recognized at the annual McGruder luncheon as the 2013 Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award winner. She is the first Asian-American to be acknowledged with this award.
The luncheon and lecture were co-sponsored by Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
This year marks 10 years of honoring diversity excellence with the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity, and it has become one of Kent State’s most successful diversity events.
About the Event
The luncheon included comments by Lin-Fisher, and special awards were given to student media representatives who have reported on diversity issues in the past year. Special guest Annette McGruder was honored for her ongoing support of this program over the past 10 years.
Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost; Alfreda Brown, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; and Stan Wearden, dean of the College of Communication and Information, also spoke at the luncheon.
Mitchell was also the keynote speaker at the McGruder Lecture, also held on Tuesday in the Kent Student Center Kiva. The event was free and open to the public.
Mitchell, former anchor of the “CBS Evening News” weekend editions and “The Early Show” on Saturday, and national correspondent for “CBS News Sunday Morning,” the “CBS Evening News” and “The Early Show,” joined the staff of WKYC Channel 3 as managing editor and lead evening news anchor in January 2012.
“I’m a Midwestern guy,” Mitchell said. “I’m used to hard work, I get the weather, and I can’t wait to settle my family in a community where local news can still make a difference. Channel 3 has the courage and conviction to do the kind of news that goes beyond reporting ‘what is’ to foster a vision of ‘what could be.’ And I find that truly exciting.”
Mitchell was born in St. Louis and accepted his first television job at age 17 as a nighttime switchboard operator at KTVI-TV. He graduated from the University of Missouri and began his professional career at KMBC in Kansas City. Larger markets and bigger stations soon followed, then a move to New York as the co-anchor of the overnight CBS News broadcast, “Up to the Minute.” In 1993, he was named a correspondent for “Eye-to-Eye with Connie Chung.” In 1995, Mitchell was assigned to the CBS Washington bureau. In July of 1997, Mitchell was named co-anchor of “CBS News Saturday Morning” and traveled extensively as a reporter for the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” and “48 Hours.” He covered the war in Bosnia, went to the Democratic Republic of Congo and interviewed then President Laurent Kabila, reported from Cuba, India, Indonesia and The Marshall Islands.
Mitchell was on the anchor desk with Dan Rather on Sept. 11, 2001, and reported from Ground Zero and other parts of Manhattan on the days and weeks that followed. Most recently, he anchored the live CBS Special Report coverage of the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011.
Mitchell has been honored with multiple local and national Emmys Awards. He has received the National Association of Black Journalists Award, the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award for his coverage of the Elian Gonzales story, the New York Association of Black Journalists Award for Best Documentary, and the Press Club of St. Louis 18th Annual Media Person of the Year Award.
Perhaps not as well-known, but equally important to Mitchell is the 2007 Missouri Honor Medal. He received it for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, his alma mater. He also returns there every summer to help with a journalism workshop for high school students, a workshop he attended in 1977.
Mitchell is married to Karina Mitchell, a freelance contributor of entertainment reports to CBS. Mrs. Mitchell also was a producer for “CBS Newspath.” She and Mitchell have four children.
Lin-Fisher has worked as a copy editor, metro reporter and assistant metro editor in her 18 years with the Akron Beacon Journal. For the last 12 years, she has been the consumer reporter and columnist and a general business reporter.
She covers consumer issues as well as several business beats, including retail, grocery stores, utilities and banks. She is best known for her coverage of natural gas issues, having first analyzed prices of natural gas when the industry was deregulated in 2000. Every year, she provides in-depth analysis of the natural gas choices and lays out the choices for readers.
Lin-Fisher’s work has earned her state awards for human interest writing, business writing, consumer reporting, breaking news and column writing. The Beacon’s American Dream/Reclaim the Dream series in 2009, which looked at the challenges of the middle class and in which Lin-Fisher offered practical ways readers could work on their finances, earned several state and national honors. They include the 2009 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism and placements in the National Headliner Awards for Journalistic Innovation and Scripps Howard National Journalism Awards Public Service Reporting.
Lin-Fisher also won 2009 Society of Business Editors and Writers Best in Business Projects for her Reclaim the Dream series.
More recently, she has garnered accolades from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Cleveland Press Club.
She began her career interning for the Philadelphia Inquirer for two summers and one summer at The Wichita Eagle. She wrote for the Pioneer Press weekly newspapers in the suburbs of Chicago while in high school and during college, wrote for both The Daily Iowan and The Iowa City Press-Citizen.
A Chicago native, Lin-Fisher graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism and environmental studies. She lives in the Akron area with her husband and two children.
The late Robert G. McGruder was a 1963 graduate of Kent State and a foundational local figure for diversity in journalism.He went on from Kent State to become the first black editor of the Daily Kent Stater and first black reporter at The Plain Dealer. McGruder marked several other firsts in his career, becoming the first black president of the Associated Press Managing Editors group and the first black editor of the Detroit Free Press, in 1995 and 1996.
McGruder was a strong proponent for diversity in and out of the newsroom: “Please know that I stand for diversity,” he said once. “I represent the African-Americans, Latinos, Arab-Americans, Asians, Native Americans, gays and lesbians, women and all others we must see represented in our business offices, newsrooms and newspapers.”
Debra Adams Simmons, editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, was the recipient of the 2012 Robert G. McGruder Award. Previous award winners include: 2011 – Caesar Andrews, ethics and diversity faculty member at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University; 2010 – Richard Prince, columnist, Richard Prince’s Journal-isms, Maynard Institute of Journalism Education; 2008 – Jannette Dates, Ph.D., dean, John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University; 2007 – Michelle Singletary, columnist, The Washington Post; 2006 – Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, Miami Herald; 2005 – Albert E. Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president, Akron Beacon Journal; 2004 – David Lawrence Jr., former publisher, Miami Herald; and 2003 – Gregory Moore, editor, Denver Post.
For more information about the Robert G. McGruder Award or event, contact Eugene Shelton, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To RSVP for the event, contact Darlene Contrucci at 330-672-2623.
For more information about Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, visit http://jmc.kent.edu.