In Alumni News, Journalism

Fischer’s career includes 17 years as an instructor at three different universities.

BYU alumnus, Kenneth A. Fischer, was awarded the prestigious Edward L. Bliss Award for Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Education, the second BYU alumnus to receive the award.

Fischer attended BYU in 1982 while obtaining a masters degree in Communications. While at BYU, Fischer worked directly with Thomas A. Griffiths, an emeritus member of the Communications faculty, who also received the Ed Bliss award in 2004.

“This is a humbling honor to be included on a list with Walter Cronkite’s writer/producer Ed Bliss and my own BYU mentor Professor Griffiths,” Fischer said.

Dale Cressman, associate professor in the BYU School of Communications, said it is quite the achievement to win the award, let alone to follow in the footsteps of a professor who has also won the award. Cressman solicited letters of support and wrote the nomination cover letters for both Fischer and Griffiths. Cressman said the “Ed Bliss” award is the most prestigious award for a broadcast journalism professor to receive. According to Cressman’s experience, winners usually have to be re-nominated over a period of several years until they are chosen.

“It is very unusual—and possibly unprecedented—for a teacher and his student to both win this award. And it is noteworthy for two award winners to come out of BYU,” Cressman said.

The award comes from the Electronic News Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, also known as AEJMC. The award is given to broadcast journalism educators who have made “significant and lasting contributions to the field,” according to the Electronic News Division’s website.

Fischer’s nominating team made a case for him to receive the AEJMC educator award based on his teaching and service work.

“I wish to suggest that Ken Fischer is the consummate unsung hero in the academy. He is selfless, generous, and dedicated, yet he does not draw attention to himself, nor is he quick to claim credit,” Cressman stated in his nomination letter for Fischer. “This is a professor completely without pretense, yet driven to serve his students, his colleagues, and his academic committee.”

Fischer was first introduced to BYU by Lee Scanlon, a professor Fischer worked with as an undergraduate student at California State University, Fullerton. Scanlon, who received his PhD from BYU, drove Fischer to Utah in 1978 to visit with Griffiths who was the News Director for KBYU at the time. During the trip, Fischer decided to apply for the BYU communications graduate program.

“That visit to BYU and my decision to attend changed the course of my life to this day,” Fischer said. “I have utilized what I learned at BYU in both my professional and academic newsrooms and studio work.”

Teaching broadcast journalism helps keep Fischer “alive and fresh” in an industry that provides something new everyday. Fischer is currently a member of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication faculty at the University of Oklahoma. He is also working towards obtaining a PhD in Communication.

“Dr. Griffiths and my BYU friends have been encouraging throughout the process. They remind me that learning never ends,” Fischer said. “But as far as the award is concerned, I may not be a member of the flock, but like the sign at the ‘Y’ says, ‘the world is our campus, go forth and serve.’”

Fischer will be presented with a recognition plaque at a special ceremony on August 10 as part of the AEJMC’s Chicago Conference at NBC’s WMAQ television station. Fischer’s name will also be added to the permanent plaque housed at American University in Washington, D.C.

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