(PHOENIX, ARIZONA, 4/17/17) The 2017 Edward L. Bliss Award for Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Education is awarded to Kenneth A. Fischer of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.
Three judges — all former heads of the AEJMC Electronic News Division — selected Fischer based on materials submitted by colleagues and former students as part of the annual nomination process. END Head Indira Somani of Howard University said: “Ken is the quiet teacher who shuns the limelight but clearly has impact in the hearts and minds of his students. I look forward to recognizing him in Chicago.”
Besides shaping broadcast journalism at Oklahoma, Fischer has taught at five other ACEJMC (Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) accredited schools and has kept in touch with former students around the world who are proud to call him their instructor and mentor. Prior to coming to Oklahoma, Ken supervised student-produced newscasts at five different PBS stations. At OU, Ken has been the faculty advisor when the weekly student sports program, Sooner Sports Pad went on national and regional television in the last five years.
One judge, Laura Smith of the University of South Carolina, noted: “He works with dogged determination to help his students succeed, and they love him for it. And he’s there to help his colleagues, too… always willing to serve on committees, panels and decision-making teams. He frequently does the behind-the-scenes work that makes us all look good. And he does it quietly, never seeking the limelight. He seeks instead to serve. He is a credit to the teaching profession and I couldn’t be happier for him to win the Bliss Award.”
Another judge, Tim Bajkiewicz of Virginia Commonwealth observed Ken is the kind of colleague everyone wants to have: “In letters from former colleagues and students alike, I read similar, repeated comments about his passion, work ethic and dedication to broadcast journalism education. He’s someone who clearly cares deeply about what we do and why we do it. It’s amazing to know he’s finishing his Ph.D., since it’s difficult to think that he could contribute even more to our discipline. Ken’s commitment to service is unparalleled. “
Perhaps one of the qualities that endear him to his students and colleagues is his broad sense of humor. Dale Cressman of Brigham Young, who led the nomination effort, noted Fischer’s ability to “speak truth in a way that is both humorous and thoughtful.” He added, Fischer’s “generosity of spirit inspires loyalty from those with whom he works.”
An avid baseball fan with more than 40,000 cards in his collection (and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research since 1989), Ken never dreamed his stats would put him in the hall of fame, but his good friend and past Bliss winner Bill Davie of Louisiana Lafayette observed, “Ken refers to himself as a ‘jobber,’ but his colleagues are wise to know that just means he is the ‘go-to guy’ in every college venue where broadcast, journalism, and education go hand in hand. He has been indispensable on so many occasions where others receive trophies and awards, it is good to see him get one of his own.”
Notably, one of Fischer’s professors is a previous Bliss winner. Thomas Griffiths, Brigham Young emeritus professor, was the 2004 recipient. “I’m delighted Ken is being recognized,” said Griffiths. “He is very deserving.”
The Bliss Award will be presented to Ken Fischer August 10, 2017 in a ceremony at NBC’s WMAQ in Chicago. The Association for Education of Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) will be celebrating its 100th conference this summer. The international body of electronic news educators (END) celebrated fifty years in 2016 as a standalone division of the organization.
Contact: Dr. Bill Silcock, Chair, Bliss Committee
Walter Cronkite School, Arizona State University