WKYC anchor wins 10th annual McGruder Award


The McGruder recipient Russ Mitchell spoke at the Kiva on Tuesday April 2, 2013 about his struggles and triumphs as a African-American journalist for the McGruder Lecture. Michell is the anchor of the WKYCs evening news, and was the anchor for the CBS Sunday Night News and Up to the Minute. Photo by Emily Lambillotte.

Kelsey Leyva

Mitchell, managing editor and evening anchor for WKYC, received the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Tuesday from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. According to ghnewsroom.com, the award is given to individuals, newsrooms or teams of journalists who embody the spirit of Robert G. McGruder, a Kent State alumnus who served as the executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, managing editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and is known for encouraging diversity in journalism.

Mitchell was also the keynote speaker at the event, and he focused on change and diversity.

“The bad news about getting older is you get older,” he said. “But the good news is you can become an agent of change, someone who can make a difference for the better.”

As an agent of change, Mitchell volunteers at a journalism workshop at University of Missouri School of Journalism, his alma mater, for high school students every summer.

“That workshop at my alma mater, I go back every year,” he said. “People always ask me why I came back to local news. Part of that was to make a difference. The legacy of this workshop is great and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Mitchell also noted the improvement of diversity and ways to increase it in the newsroom.

“In terms of diversity in journalism, things have gotten so much better, but we still have a long way to go,” he said. “We need more Deborah Adams Simmons’ [2012 McGruder Award winner] and Bob McGruder’s running major newspapers. We need news directors, station managers, etc., who can impact change at corporate level.”

Stanley Wearden, dean of the College of Communication and Information, spoke briefly at the lecture and said he was pleased with the university’s commitment to diversity.

“I’m proud of the dedication to diversity that we’ve shown over the last 10 years, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made as well,” Wearden said. “But this is a continuing commitment.

One we must make every day, every year and uphold always as part of our mission.”

Samantha Evans, sophomore zoology major, said that she was glad that she attended the event.

“Russ Mitchell is very inspiring,” she said. “He’s a good role model for students who want to pursue a career in the field of journalism.”

Eugene Shelton, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, played an active role in the coordinating of this event and the selection of Mitchell as award recipient. He said that choosing Mitchell,who is the first broadcast journalist to receive the award, was an easy decision.

“As far as Russ Mitchell this year, it was just a given,” he said. “He represents excellence in everything he does and you have to take advantage of that. We have never given the major award to a broadcast journalist.”

Shelton said it was important for the students to hear Mitchell’s story.

“I think students needed to hear his story today because it hasn’t been easy for him, and he’s made it,” Shelton said. “You do not allow your ethnicity, your religion, your life style or anything to define you. Allow your talents and your skills to define you. It just takes confidence in yourself to do that and I think students need to know that.”

Contact Kelsey Leyva at [email protected].