NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Pulitzer Prize-winning editor recently visited Tennessee State University journalism students and encouraged them to be a “voice for people who cannot speak for themselves.”
Michael Anastasi, vice president and executive editor of The Tennessean, spoke to the students and the staff of The Meter, TSU’s student newspaper, at a gathering in the Learning Resource Center Auditorium on March 28.
A journalist for nearly 30 years, Anastasi came to The Tennessean from the Los Angeles News Group, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, where he was the senior vice president and executive editor for nearly four years.
Under his leadership, The Daily Breeze, one of the papers owned by the Los Angeles News Group, won the Pulitzer in 2015 for local reporting for an investigation into the Centinela Valley (Calif.) Union High School District, which exposed the superintendent’s excessive salary and annual perks.
“As journalists, we must always be at the forefront in the performance of our duty,” said Anastasi, who started at The Tennessean in November. “Lots of people don’t like us because of our fight against the ills of society. As journalists, we can effect change in how we do our work and in many cases becoming the voice for people who cannot speak for themselves.”
Anastasi urged students to keep up with new technology, saying digital media is fast becoming the way of the future in reporting the news.
“Digital journalism is how you stay ahead,” he said. “Fundamentals like currency will never change, but how we report the news is changing fast.”
Shayla Simmons is a freshman Journalism major and a writer for The Meter. Next year she will become the newspaper’s digital editor.
“The speaker was right on point,” Simmons said. “I expect us to take full advantage of the digital age and engage students across multiple platforms.”
Delvakio Brown, a senior communications major, said Anastasi was inspiring.
“Listening to him share his stories of accomplishments was worth my time and effort,” Brown said. “He shared with us his story of how he accomplished more than writing but how he changed lives through it.”
Dr. Karen Dunlap, former president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and an adjunct professor of journalism at TSU, said it was important to have someone like Anastasi speak to the students.
“This is so important for students to see what’s happening in the media today, to hear from a senior executive and even just hear about investigative reporting,” Dunlap said. “I am glad the students were here to hear him.”
Meter adviser Sandra Long Weaver agreed.
“I wanted the students to hear what it takes to do that and to know the kinds of people he hires,” Weaver said. “And I think they benefitted from what he talked about today.”
Anastasi said his visit was also about building a relationship with TSU, and seeing how The Tennessean can best work with the university and the administration.
“It is extremely important for The Tennessean, and me personally, to have a meaningful relationship with all of our local universities,” he said. “I think we have a vital role to play in having that relationship with administration to understand what their mission is, and what their strategic priorities are to see where we can work together as partners.”
TSU Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Cheryl Green, welcomed Anastasi on behalf of President Glenda Glover.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.