For the Advancement of Broadcast Journalism

November 23, 2021
Ronald T. Thornton with Hayes Anderson
Ronald T. Thornton with Hayes Anderson.

With a father working in broadcast journalism, Ron Thornton was no stranger to the newsroom growing up. Thornton, now retired, followed in his dad’s footsteps and had a long and fruitful career in broadcast journalism that afforded him the chance to work for independent networks and local television stations, as well as major broadcast networks such as NBC News in Washington, D.C.

After retiring in 2017, Thornton came home to San Diego wondering which direction the next phase of his life would take him. That path ultimately led him back to where it all started: San Diego State University (SDSU).

Thornton did not major in journalism, having majored in Telecommunications and Film instead, but his professors at SDSU instilled in him the fundamentals of storytelling, which is the cornerstone of the profession. He credits his well-rounded experience at SDSU with giving him the foundation necessary to excel and seize opportunities both big and small—a foundation that he hopes to provide for the next generation through gifting aspiring broadcast journalists at SDSU with the Ronald T. Thornton Endowed Internship, a $2,500 scholarship which will be offered annually.

“What SDSU has become since my time there heavily influenced my decision. I was so proud to see that growth,” said Thornton. “When I retired, I asked myself what my next step would be and it just clicked—this is what you do. You help the next generation accomplish what you were able to and help them avoid the mistakes you made.”

The scholarship is offered to juniors and seniors pursuing an undergraduate degree in any major within the School of Journalism & Media Studies (JMS), or to those within the School of Television, Film and New Media (TFM) pursuing a degree in Production or Critical Studies. The scholarship is also available to those pursuing a graduate degree in Mass Communication or Film and Television Production.

Thornton’s generosity extends beyond the yearly scholarship opportunity; he has also named SDSU in his estate plans. This gift will no doubt fuel the resources, educational tools, and opportunities for aspiring broadcast journalists at SDSU.

“One of the most transformational acts an individual can do is to support student scholarships,” said Dr. Temple Northup, director of JMS. “By reducing the stress related to the cost of attending SDSU, it enables students to focus on their coursework and training so that they are prepared for careers when they graduate.”

Thornton was drawn to broadcast television because he believed that it is one of the most powerful mediums for influencing the masses, and over the course of his career, he saw the journalism industry evolve and rapidly change. He credits his longevity to his ability to adapt to those changes, a skill Thornton believes is crucial for any who wish to have a successful career in broadcast. While he may not know what the next phase of journalism will be, he hopes the next generation of broadcast journalists will continue to improve the orchestration and dissemination of information, and that receiving his scholarship will play a role in laying that foundation.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.