ASU School of Broadcast Journalism Names ESPN Anchor to Hall of Fame
Laura Latzko • college time
Mall graduates of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication go on to make their mark in broadcast journalism.
Former Matt Barrie did it as a presenter and host of the main sports news channel ESPN.
Barrie recently became the newest member of the school’s Alumni Hall of Fame.
He is the 50th person to be inducted into the Cronkite Hall of Fame and joins Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julie Cart, Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall and CNN International anchor Becky Anderson.
The Cronkite School will host an induction ceremony later in the spring.
Barrie says being inducted into the Cronkite Hall of Fame is a great honor for him because of the value he places on his education.
“It makes more sense than you might think to be recognized by my alma mater among the greats who came out of this school,” Barrie says.
“Being in the same Hall of Fame as them is really something I didn’t expect at this point in my career. It means a lot because I hold the university in such high regard. The fact that it’s reciprocated is something special for me.
A graduate of Saguaro High School, Barrie continues to take great pride in his alma mater and strives to uphold the values imposed on him as a student.
“I’m very proud to be from Arizona, very proud to graduate from Arizona State University and very proud to graduate from a school like Cronkite because of the reputation it has in the industry and also the name attached to it,” says Barrie.
Barrie, who works as an am anchor and college football studio host for ESPN, graduated from ASU in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.
He was an athlete himself, playing football and baseball in his youth, and his love of sports inspired him to work in the industry.
“I stopped growing in high school. I wasn’t going to be one of those great athletes, but I knew I loved playing sports. I watched the local Phoenix news growing up. I said, “It’s a cool job to be able to cover local news, local teams and sports.” So, I always wanted to do that,” Barrie says.
Working at ESPN often involves long days, but Barrie loves what he does.
A typical day for him when he’s on “SportsCenter: AM” starts around 3:15 a.m. During college football season, he often works from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. the next day, Saturday.
For ESPN, he covers different sports but specializes in college football and golf.
Focusing on two sports allows him to deepen the stories, especially for a niche sport like golf. He also gets to know athletes and coaches on a deeper level.
It tries to take a more personalized approach to covering sports.
“I like to see them as people first, professional athletes second. I think you get a better understanding of who they are as individuals and separate them a bit from their careers as you get to know them,” Barrie says.
At ESPN, he takes on a variety of roles – in-studio host for college football coverage, calling college football games, serving as an anchor for “SportsCenter:AM”, hosting “SportsCenter on the Road” and co-hosting the golf podcast “Matty and The Caddy.”
He has won 11 Emmy Awards and three Edward R. Murrow Journalism Awards.
He joined ESPN in March 2013 after working as an anchor and reporter in Dallas; Columbia, South Carolina; Wausau, Wis.; and Lawton, Oklahoma.
Throughout his career, he has covered college and professional football teams and attended major sporting events such as the Big 12 Championship Game, the BCS National Championship, and the Independence and Liberty Bowls.
Barrie also covers major golf events such as the Masters Tournament for ESPN.
Most recently, he covered the College Football Playoff National Championship between the LSU Tigers and the Clemson Tigers.
He says covering major college football games has given him the opportunity to see how much those wins mean, not just for teams, but for entire cities and states.
“You understand how passionate people are about sports and what a particular team means to a community and what a particular team means to a state. What LSU just did and what it means for the state of Louisiana, you’d be amazed. It’s a football team, but a football team brings an entire state together,” Barrie said.
plant a seed
ASU helped provide a foundation in Barrie. He gained valuable experience at ASU, as an intern covering local teams such as the Phoenix Suns.
“It taught you what it’s like to be in a dressing room after a game and you try to get a post-game story and a post-game interview. You have to see the hustle and bustle of professional sports team coverage,” Barrie says.
He says this hands-on experience helped prepare him for a career in broadcast journalism.
“I felt when I left Arizona State that I was ready to start a career based on the opportunities I was given in college. When I got that first job, it didn’t bother me. seemed too overwhelming,” Barrie says.
With ESPN, he traveled to Arizona a few times, for bowling games and spring baseball training.
He returned to deliver a keynote address at the Cronkite School’s convocation ceremony and to participate in the school’s Must-See Mondays guest speaker series.
Brett Kurland, director of sports programs for ASU and Cronkite News-Phoenix Sports Bureau, got to know Barrie.
An Emmy Award-winning sports producer, Kurland says Barrie is a strong role model for ASU students because of his accomplishments.
When he visited ASU for Must-See Mondays, Barrie spent several days at the Cronkite School, visiting classrooms and working with students.
“He is really committed to helping mentor people and sharing whatever wisdom he can. He’s really committed and an incredible role model for our students. He really sets an example for them and helps show our students what is possible,” says Kurland.
Barrie also mentored ASU students who interned at ESPN, teaching them the importance of being professional and prepared and having a strong work ethic.
“There is a lot of preparation to do. There’s a lot of research going into it and a lot of work going into it,” Barrie says.
At the Cronkite School, Barrie learned to be responsible for his work, to be a responsible journalist, to make strong contacts and to maintain a good reputation.
Kurland says that, like Barrie, other students at the school are learning to become skilled journalists. They learn valuable skills such as how to write well, conduct good interviews, identify good sources, and write compelling stories.
“You have to be able to engage your audience, come up with interesting story ideas, and not just do the same story as everyone else,” Kurland says.
Barrie is a testament to how the school’s hands-on learning approach enables graduates to succeed in their chosen fields, Kurland says. He says it also takes hard work, dedication to the craft and joy in his work, which he sees in Barrie.
“We’re very proud of what we do at Cronkite School, and we’re so proud of Matt, to see what he’s accomplished,” Kurland says. “It’s so exciting for us to welcome someone like Matt to the Hall of Fame.” CT