The award was given to the CNN program “Reliable Sources” in the National Network Program category.
From the “New York Times” to a weekly show on CNN, Brian Stelter ’07 has always remembered his Towson University roots.
“To me, there’s such a straight line from being at Towson, working on the school paper, being in my journalism classes, to me being at CNN,” Stelter told Towson University last year in words that later became a 30-second TV spot. “All the things I was picking up at school are directly connected to what I’m doing now.”
And what Stelter is doing now is earning him national acclaim. Stelter is the host of “Reliable Sources” on CNN, which won the 2017 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism in the National Network Program category.
The Walter Cronkite Award is awarded to reporters, programs and news organizations that showcase substantive and innovative coverage that informs viewers about their electoral choices. The awards are given out biennially since 2001, and are presented by the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Judges called “Reliable Sources” a “one-man media literacy course,” while praising Stelter for his “down-to-earth conversational commentary” at a time when the public needs to understand what the media does and how they do it.
The jury also highlighted the way Stelter faced criticism of the media head on, offering positive solutions to the question of what the media needs to do to gain, and regain, the public’s trust.
“We must learn how to use, and not be abused by, our tech tools,” Stelter said during the awards ceremony on April 28. “Everybody is a source now, so what’s reliable? We should recognize that the U.S. Press is much stronger than any demagogue.”
As a mass communication student at TU, Stelter served as editor-in-chief of the Towerlight student newspaper. The Damascus, Md., native called Towson University the best springboard for him to learn the craft, from writing to editing to launching a career.
And a decade after graduating, he’s gone from being a student to being part of the lesson plan. Clips from his show are used as examples in courses. He keeps in touch with several professors who cheer for him in good times and support him when he’s feeling challenged.
“I know I wouldn’t be sitting on this set if I hadn’t started at Towson, so I feel this real desire to stay connected to the school, keep up with what’s going on there, and see how the place is changing,” he said.