Willow Bay: ‘Join Me In Reaching Out To Young Journalists’

Willow Bay: ‘Join Me In Reaching Out To Young Journalists’

Never one to rest on her laurels, Willow Bay accepted a lifetime achievement award with a speech calling on her colleagues to join her in shaping the next generation of journalists.


Bay, Director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, was presented with The Joseph M Quinn Award by the LA Press Club on June 28.

“I will take it in the spirit of investing in the future of journalists and journalism,” she told the crowd at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel for the 57th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

Bay advised that, to the extent possible, “You have to choose your bosses wisely. They can be some of your best teachers and lord knows they can shape your career.” She pointed to lessons from David Stern, who helped her use the platform of the NBA to fight ignorance about HIV/AIDS, Rick Kaplan, who taught her to “edit a script until it’s worthy of primetime,” and Arianna Huffington, always driving to experiment and innovate. She continued:

In the spirit of all the great bosses and all the great teachers that we’ve known, I want to ask you to help me in guiding this next generation of journalists. They are beginning their careers at what you all know is a wildly transformational moment, where the familiar media of the past — newspapers and network television — are losing some of their dominance. New models of gathering and distributing news are proliferating, and along with them, new ways to reach audiences, particularly underserved ones. We want this new generation to be the driving force behind the new landscape of news that’s being created right before our eyes. We want them to harness emerging technologies in service of compelling and powerful journalism. We want them to create new business models for a sustainable future. And, perhaps most importantly, we want this next generation to embody the enduring and fundamental values of journalism in service to all.

In the spirit of Joseph Quinn, who always lent a hand to a journalist in need, and who believed so fervently in the excellence of this industry, join me in reaching out to young journalists in our classrooms … or in your own newsrooms. They need our help along this journey. They need our help. The future of our industry needs you, your wisdom and your guidance, to help them live up to their potential.

Bay was introduced by Wallis Annenberg, a philanthropist and well-known patron of journalism and journalism education.

“The great journalists have always been skeptics and seekers, people with an almost pathological need to dig deeper, to find out for themselves and share it with the world,” Annenberg said before rattling off Bay’s stellar resume.

But to me, it’s her vision as director of USC Annenberg that really qualifies her for the Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement. She knows that journalism and communications have been disrupted for good, and there’s no wringing our hands or turning back. Digital and cross-platform is the future if we don’t want to become the past. Willow knows that we need the next generation of skeptics and seekers, the next generation of LA Press Club members, to be the disrupters, not the disrupted. We need them to embrace the newest and most transformative technology so they can inform and enlighten, and, well, just plain do their jobs.

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