All-University Award Recipients
Spirit of Marquette Award (for Professional Achievement Before Age 40)
BENJAMIN S. TRACY, COMM '98,
“For as long as I can remember,” Ben Tracy says, “I have wanted to be a reporter. It must be in my DNA.”
But even supposing Ben was predisposed to journalism, it took a considerable amount of hard work and an equally sizable amount of well-crafted talent for him to become the award-winning broadcast journalist he is today. As a national correspondent for The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and The Early Show and a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning, he is based in Los Angeles and recently covered the aftermath of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis that rocked Japan. In January, he covered the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left six dead and 13 others wounded in an attack outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket.
“I get to tell stories for a living and learn something new every single day, trying to master a topic in a few short hours,” says Ben, who was elected to Marquette’s Board of Trustees on March 3. “I get to go places and meet people I otherwise never would. I get to play a small part in informing people about what is happening around us.”
And inform people he did as a reporter for WCCO–TV, CBS’ affiliate in Minneapolis, from 2004–08. Most notably, he was a member of the station’s investigative team and covered the methamphetamine epidemic, 2007 floods in southern Minnesota and August 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge. He also developed at WCCO what became his signature, a segment called “Good Question.” That brought him national exposure, and he was recruited to join Couric’s team.
But before CBS and before WCCO — in the stage of his career that prompts colleagues to say, “I knew you when!” — Ben was a reporter at WISN–TV Milwaukee and WBAY–TV in Green Bay, Wis. For three years, he also was Marquette’s director of communication, overseeing the university’s media relations and communication strategy.
Ben’s ties to his alma mater remain strong. He has been an emcee and host committee member for Marquette CIRCLES events in Los Angeles and New York and is involved with the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication. He credits Marquette’s mission with guiding his personal and professional life.
“Almost every day, we make choices. And it is often easier to go with what is expedient rather than right,” says Ben, who has a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and political science and a master of arts in public service. “Marquette teaches us to take the long view and to never forget those who don’t have the advantages we do.”
Ben has received many accolades, including five Emmy Awards and the DuPont-Columbia Award, a premier honor for excellence in broadcast journalism. His personal formula is straightforward: “Be honest. Be yourself. Work hard. Don’t over think it.”
Fun fact: Ben is clearly an active guy in his professional life, but he’s just as much so in his spare time. He recently biked from San Francisco to Los Angeles — 550 miles — to raise money for AIDS treatment and prevention.