J. William and Mary Diederich
College of Communication
Communicator of the Year Award
Jeff A. Kiernan, Jour '87
The late Washington Post publisher Philip Graham once described journalism as the "first rough draft of history." Carrying on that tradition is what Jeff Kiernan likes best about his job as vice president and news director of Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM-TV.
"It is a gift to witness everyday history," Jeff says. "It is a gift to inform viewers of that history through pictures and sound. It is an awesome responsibility."
Jeff's commitment to carrying out that responsibility has paid off. He honed his craft at stations in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Boston before landing at WBBM, earning several Emmys and other awards along the way. WBBM's general manager told the Chicago Sun-Times he picked Jeff for the top news job because "he was delivering better journalism."
Jeff was interested in journalism "as far back as I can remember." He grew up watching 60 Minutes with his dad and chasing police cars and ambulances with his mom. He didn't have a long-term career plan. "I've never been very good about having goals," he says. "Rather, I believe if you live with purpose and work hard, life and the future reveals itself for how things are supposed to be."
His father helped, as well.
"My father oftentimes said, 'You can't learn while you are talking.' I think about him and that quote every day," Jeff says. It was an important lesson being a good listener is key to success as a journalist.
Jeff also was inspired by the values he learned in college. "Marquette's mission of excellence, faith, leadership and service is central to how I work as a professional and live as a person," he says.
Fun facts about Jeff
Favorite quote: “You can’t learn while you are talking.” — said often by his father