Acclaimed journalist Jorge Ramos, who recently endowed scholarships in the School of Communication, was honored during the University of Miami Student Media Awards.
By Karina Valdes
With the academic year coming to a close, the University of Miami School of Communication celebrated the achievements of student media at the 74th Annual University of Miami Student Media Awards.
During the ceremony, alumnus and acclaimed journalist, Jorge Ramos, was recognized with the 2023 South Florida Communicator of the Year Award for his distinguished contributions to the media profession. He spoke with students and shared insights into his career and the field of journalism.
“We appreciate Jorge Ramos for his generosity with his time and talent, inspiring us with lessons learned through his impressive career and experience,” said Karin Wilkins, dean of the School of Communication. “As an exceptional and seasoned journalist, Jorge reminds us of the importance in taking a stand against injustice, engaging communities with credibility, and persevering with the weight of evidence.”
Javier Morgado, alumnus and the 2019 South Florida Communicator of the Year, introduced Ramos to a room packed with students, faculty, and friends of the school.
“I’m here to introduce somebody that I’ve looked up to for as long as I can remember, because Ramos has been on television since 1986 in America as the main anchor of Univision,” began Morgado. “He is the most respected Spanish-language anchor in America and truly one of the best journalists of our time,” he added.
Ramos’ storied career began in Mexico City where he started working as a reporter. In 1983, he left Mexico for the United States and worked in Los Angeles for a bit before starting his role as anchor on Noticiero Univision in 1986. Since then, he has covered significant historical events and is currently broadcast across the United States and in 13 Latin American countries.
“He has witnessed so much stuff in his time doing this. Wars, international conflicts, terror attacks, natural disasters. Covering the plight of immigrants which obviously continues to be a huge story in this country. And, of course, politics,” said Morgado.
Throughout his award-winning career, Ramos has interviewed prominent political figures including former United States Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, as well as controversial leaders Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro.
In 2019, Ramos interviewed Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, questioning his role in human rights violations.
“[Maduro] was responsible for the killing of hundreds of people, for torture, and for violations of human rights. I needed to take a stand with him, so, my first question was, ‘Are you a dictator?’ He clearly didn’t like that question. And then he didn’t like the second one and the third one. He stayed with me for 17 minutes,” said Ramos.
Maduro refused to continue the interview and detained Ramos along with his team for 24 hours before deporting them from the country. Ramos’ equipment and video card were taken, but Maduro’s team also recorded the interview and a few months later a copy was sent to Ramos and aired on Univision.
“Clearly, it is not easy to take a stand, and it is sometimes complicated,” said Ramos.
In his address, Ramos reinforced the importance of taking a stand and he shared the biggest issue impacting journalists. With the rise of artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and tools that can be used to create false narratives, Ramos noted how easy it is to create photos, videos, and other media that perpetuate falsehoods.
“The problem that we’re facing as journalists, as always, has to do with falsehood, has to do with misinformation, has to do with disinformation, has to do with lies. And the only way to combat that is through journalism,” said Ramos.
He shared with students the two main roles they have as journalists.
“For us as journalists, we have two main roles and two main missions. The first one we have is to report reality as it is, not as we wish it would be,” noted Ramos. “But the second and most important thing is that we as journalists, the most important moral obligation that we have is to challenge and to question those who are in power.”
To support the next generation of journalists, Ramos recently worked with the University to establish the Jorge Ramos Endowed Scholarship in Communication to benefit students in the school’s journalism track.
“Our students will benefit from his thoughtful gift to student scholarship, as well as his perspective on the future of journalism and the importance of civic life,” said Wilkins.
Ramos is recognized world-wide for his reporting and is the winner of eight Emmy Awards including one in 2016 for Best Newscast in Spanish. In 2017, he received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Political Journalism and the Gabriel García Márquez Award for Excellence in Journalism.
“Sometimes, you have to take a stand when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, the violation of human rights, dictatorships, and the destruction of the environment. You have to take a stand because, if you don’t take a stand, then you are simply not doing your job,” said Ramos.
The 74th Annual University of Miami Student Media Awards were held on May 2 at the School of Communication. Visit https://umtv.miami.edu/ to view a recording of the event.