Former Oregonian editor to lead Reynolds Center at Cronkite School

June 5, 2015

Peter Bhatia, the former editor and vice president of Oregon’s largest news organization, has been named the new director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Bhatia, the former top editor of The Oregonian/Oregon Media Group and current Cronkite visiting professor, will lead business journalism training efforts for the Reynolds Center, the world’s premier provider of ongoing training for business reporters and editors. The center is supported through grants from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. Peter Bhatia Cronkite ASU Peter Bhatia is the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major daily newspaper in the U.S., running The Oregonian from 2010-2014. That paper won six Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure. At ASU, he will serve as the new director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Photo by: Deanna Dent Download Full Image

Bhatia joined Cronkite in summer 2014 as the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics following a 20-year career at The Oregonian. He replaces Micheline Maynard, the former New York Times senior business correspondent, who is leaving her current position for family reasons.

“The Reynolds Center has long provided an essential service for journalism. It is a spectacular opportunity to lead it and help find new opportunities for business journalism,” Bhatia said. “We will continue to do what we do well and expand into new areas of training and content that have application in our digital news world.”

As the new director, Bhatia will set the direction for the center and develop and deliver a variety of business journalism training programs for professional journalists, including webinars, workshops and conferences.

According to Reynolds Center President Andrew Leckey, the Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism, Bhatia’s history with the Reynolds Center began more than a decade ago. He served on the board involved in approval of the initial Reynolds Center grant and, as editor of The Oregonian, hosted some of the center’s first business journalism workshops.

“We’re delighted that someone of his stature in journalism and on the boards of organizations supporting the field will lend expertise and leadership to the Reynolds Center’s ongoing development,” Leckey said.

Bhatia is the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major daily newspaper in the U.S., running The Oregonian from 2010-2014.  He also 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 six Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure.

Since joining the Cronkite School, Bhatia has taught journalism ethics and diversity and served as an editor of the award-winning Carnegie-Knight News21 investigation into gun rights and regulation. He also worked as a Web editor on Cronkite’s landmark documentary “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” which was watched by 1 million viewers, airing on all 33 television stations in the state.

“As one of our era’s great editors, Peter brings a wealth of extraordinary skills, values and experiences to the Reynolds Center. We are thrilled to have him onboard,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “We also are appreciative of the tremendous work this past year by Micki Maynard, who laid the groundwork for success at the Reynolds Center.”

Early in his career, Bhatia was executive editor of The Fresno Bee, managing editor of The Sacramento Bee, editor of the York (Pennsylvania) Dispatch and Sunday News, managing editor of the Dallas Times Herald, deputy managing editor of the San Francisco Examiner and a reporter and editor at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. Newsrooms he has led have won nine Pulitzer Prizes, including the six in Portland. He is a six-time Pulitzer juror.

A native of Pullman, Wash., Bhatia is a graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in history. He was inducted into the South Asian Journalists Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Asian American Journalists Association Pioneer in Journalism Award in 2004. He also is a member of the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $115 million nationwide through its journalism program.

Written by Joe Giordano.

Penny Walker

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


ASU summer program allows youth to explore the craft of writing

June 5, 2015

Tasmin Hurlbut felt like royalty.

That’s what the eight-year-old read after she wrote about standing atop University Bridge during a rare summer rain in Tempe. young children sitting and writing Eight-year-old Tamsin Hurlbut, with others, writes her thoughts after walking over the University Bridge on ASU's Tempe campus. Photo by: Charlie Leight Download Full Image

Chances are she also felt like a writer.

The fourth grader was one of several children in rl txt ­– or “real text” – a two-week summer youth writing camp sponsored by the Central Arizona Writing Project within the Department of English at Arizona State University. The course aims to help students of varied ages feel more comfortable about their writing skills.

On Friday, June 5, rl txt students across ASU’s Polytechnic, Tempe and West campuses joined together in a “writing marathon.” Groups of students stopped at various monuments and points of interest and spent time writing there, allowing the physical spaces to inspire their words.

Before heading out on the tour, class instructors encouraged students to think about the question: “Where does writing hide?”

For Hurlbut, it was on that bridge.

“This is a very big bridge. It was raining when I crossed it,” she read aloud. “I felt like I was the emperor of the world.”

Encouraging students to feel like writers

The mission of rl txt isn’t just to get young people to track their prose. It’s also to instill the confidence of writing onto future generations of educators.

Dawn Lambson, clinical assistant professor of English at ASU, is just one of several instructional team members, who are writers themselves, overseeing a class of rl txt students.

“I’ve taught for 30 years, and the last 10 years with university students who are thinking of becoming teachers. I find very few of them who are comfortable teaching writing because they don’t see themselves as writers,” she said.

Lambson says she conducts an exercise at the start of each semester. She asks the students to raise their hands if they are “readers.” Nearly every one of them raises their hands. Then she asks the class how many of them are “writers.” Maybe one or two students will raise their hands. She says that’s indicative of how students think.

“We need to start instilling in kids and teaching them when they are young and creative that they’re writers,” Lambson says. “Once they get that into their heads, there’s no stopping them and it makes all the difference in the world. We need to start changing the idea of what a writer is.”

ASU's Central Arizona Writing Project is an affiliate of the National Writing Project, where teachers are trained in leadership and best practices in writing pedagogy.

“Each place we go to is an invitation to write,” Lambson said to the students before they departed. “Write about the space or how it inspires you.”

Caitlin Vasko, who will be entering eighth grade at Copperwood Elementary in Glendale this fall, had no trouble finding inspiration on the lawn outside West campus’ Fletcher Library.

The 13-year-old, who signed up for rl txt after her language arts teacher expressed enthusiasm for one of her short stories, wrote about the beauty of nature around her – the wind in the tree branches, the swaying blades of grass and how they contrasted with the solid, immovable brick buildings.

Both students and instructors responded to the writing with a polite “thank you.” No other comments were permitted in order to discourage students from thinking of one another’s writing as “good” or “bad,” and to teach them that there is no right or wrong way to express one’s self.

Rohan Nishtala, 14, who is about to start his freshman year at Basis Chandler, wore a brown T-shirt that read: “I’m Not Lazy, Just Energy Efficient.” He says he was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s 1954 short story, “All Summer in a Day,” when writing in the stairwell of Santan Hall at the Polytechnic campus. His writing had more of an apocalyptic, sci-fi take.

“I wanted to write about my own little world, and so I created it in my head,” Nishtala said.

Returning as writers

Upon returning to their classrooms for a de-briefing after the tour, instructors were first to share about their experiences with students.

Debra LaPlante, a librarian at SS. Simon & Jude Cathedral School in Phoenix, told her students how she “went to Paris in her mind” while she was writing around West campus.

Eight-year-old Azael Anchondo, replied, “I know how! Because when you’re writing about it, your mind’s in Paris.”

LaPlante smiled and nodded approvingly.

“I love to watch the kids grow in confidence as writers, to see them go from writing being a mandatory thing to them wanting to have a chance to grow in creativity.”

Marshall Terrill and Charlie Leight contributed to this story.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657