Colorado State University names Jim Benemann, Fred Brown and Eight Other Journalism Leaders to the CSU Media Hall of Fame

Note to Reporters: Downloadable photographs of the 10 CSU Media Hall of Fame inductees are available at

Colorado State University’s Department of Journalism and Technical Communication announced 10 inaugural inductees to its Media Hall of Fame on Sept. 7. The CSU journalism program, widely regarded as the top in the state and one of the best in the nation, created the Hall of Fame to recognize and honor alumni reporters, editors, publishers, owners, photographers, broadcasters and other professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the profession.

“Our Hall of Fame inductees are CSU journalism graduates who have demonstrated throughout their careers that they are professionals of the highest distinction who have not only added to the credibility of the industry but also whose contributions to journalism have resulted in a significant impact on the political, social, economic or cultural life of their communities,” said Greg Luft, chairman of the CSU Department of Journalism and Technical Communication. “We are proud to have such distinguished alumni representing CSU while making a difference in the world.”

The announcement was made last night at the opening reception of the department’s Third Annual CSU Media Festival, which concludes Friday in a day-long gathering of journalists and students on campus to discuss a variety of topics, including sports television, branding, agricultural media, advertising, environmental and health reporting, radio, photography and the evolving field of journalism. Elizabeth Spayd, the first female managing editor in the long history of the Washington Post and a 1981 CSU graduate, is the keynote speaker at the festival.

The inaugural class of the CSU Media Hall of Fame includes the following individuals.

• Jim Benemann, ’78, is lead news anchor for KCNC-TV in Denver and one of the most respected news personalities in Colorado. Benemann began his TV career in Iowa, then worked in Washington, D.C., in Portland at KGW-TV and at KUSA-TV in Denver before moving to KCNC-TV. Benemann has covered news in Cuba, Korea, South America and Europe and has earned dozens of local and national awards.

• Fred Brown, ’61, was one of CSU’s first journalism graduates. He worked 39 years at The Denver Post, mostly covering politics. Brown continues to write, serves as a television analyst and teaches media ethics at the University of Denver. Brown also has served as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

• Charles D’Agata, ’90, a CBS television correspondent based in London, also has worked as CBS’ international radio correspondent. He was the first American journalist in Baghdad 10 months before the U.S.-led invasion and has covered every major news story in Iraq. His work has helped CBS win several honors including five Edward R. Murrow Awards.

• Bill Hitchcock, ’79, is a freelance television photojournalist who works primarily for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and CBS’ “48 Hours.” His honors include a Peabody Award, four national Emmy Awards and three regional Emmys. Hitchcock started his career at KGTV in San Diego, Calif., and he also worked at KMGH-TV in Denver.

• Mike Stratton, ’77, is a prominent Colorado-based political consultant and business leader. His business specializes in international and domestic communications. Stratton has played a leading role in six presidential campaigns and numerous congressional, gubernatorial and mayoral elections. He is a close advisor to former Gov. Roy Romer, led Ken Salazar’s successful U.S. Senate campaign and served in the administrations of both President Carter and President Clinton.

• Elizabeth “Liz” Spayd, ’82, is the first woman managing editor in the history of the Washington Post. Spayd joined the paper in 1988 and since then has worked as social policy editor, national editor and editor of She has supervised coverage of many major events including national elections, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

• Jim Sheeler, ’90, is an Endowed Professor of Journalism and Media Writing at Case Western Reserve University. Sheeler earned a Pulitzer Prize for feature reporting in 2006 while with the Rocky Mountain News, where his series, “Final Salute,” followed a military officer who notified family members after soldiers were killed in action. Sheeler’s subsequent book, “Final Salute,” was a finalist for National Book of the Year in 2008.

• Kelly Kennedy, ’97, is USA Today’s health policy reporter and author of “They Fought for Each Other,” a book about one of the most devastated military units in the Iraq war. Kennedy is the winner of several national awards and has been an Ochberg fellow and a Rossalyn Carter Mental Health Journalism fellow. She was a communications specialist for the U.S. Army and served in the Persian Gulf War before earning her bachelor’s degree at CSU.

• Gary McCormick, ’77, is director of Partnership Development for Home and Garden Television, (HGTV). McCormick is the immediate past chair of the 22,000-member Public Relations Society of America and also has served as president of the PRSA Foundation, both top leadership roles in the U.S. public relations industry.

• Todd Shimoda, B.A . ’77; M.S. ’91, is a successful novelist, website designer and publisher. In addition to his CSU degrees, he holds a doctorate from UC Berkeley. Shimoda has earned a number of awards for his three novels: “The Fourth Treasure,” “365 Views of Mt. Fuji” and “Oh! A mystery of ‘mono no aware,’” which was a National Public Radio recommended pick for 2011. 

For information about the CSU Media Hall of Fame or the Department of Journalism and Technical Communications Media Festival, contact Greg Luft (970) 491-1979 office or (970) 219-9408 cell; or Joe Champ, (970) 491-3286 office or (970) 391-4938 cell.

About CSU’s Department of Journalism and Technical Journalism

The Department of Journalism and Technical Communication is a competitive major, meaning that students must meet competitive admission requirements. Applications to join the program were up 20 percent in 2011.

The fully accredited program prepares students for careers in traditional and online journalism, including newspapers, television, radio, public relations and specialized communication. A new curriculum, developed over the past two years to meet the changing tides of journalism, was implemented this fall.

Colorado State is the only campus in Colorado with a student-run daily newspaper, 24-hour radio station and TV newscast. The department works closely with the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corp., which offers opportunities for more than 300 students each year working for the Rocky Mountain Collegian, Campus Television (CTV), KCSU-FM radio station and College Avenue magazine.

The department hosts student chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Student Society of America. CSU also hosts Colorado High School Journalism Day each October, drawing more than 1,500 students and advisors to campus for a day of workshops and activities designed to encourage careers in media.