ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL ANASTASI
Michael Anastasi, Region Editor of the USA Today and VP of the Tennessean
Few twelve-year old kids subscribe to Time Magazine, but CSULB alumni Michael Anastasi did. Perhaps this early interest led Anastasi to his current role as editor-in-chief of the Tennessean in Nashville and editor of the South Region of the USA TODAY Network. While Anastasi now lives in Nashville, he is still involved in the CSULB community and has not forgotten his home state of California.
Anastasi graduated from the Department of Journalism in 2001 and was an editor for the Daily 49er newspaper. However, before becoming part of The Beach community, he was a student at UC Davis, majoring in international relations. At the local newspaper, Anastasi was quickly recognized for his natural talent for journalism. Anastasi accredits this to always being subscribed to papers growing up, believing he “learned through osmosis how to organize news stories.” After receiving the job, he joined the CSULB community to continue his education.
In addition to being a student, Anastasi was also a parent and full-time journalist which he says, “was unique for me, but not unique for Long Beach.” Despite not being a traditional student, the diverse student community at CSULB helped make Anastasi feel connected to the university. He also enjoyed the “rigorous nature and high expectations of the journalism department.” Anastasi believes he “would not have been able to do it without my wife, Julie.” Anastasi’s pursuit to complete his degree was “for them, more than it was for myself,” referring to his family.
Anastasi has had a successful career since his time at CSULB. He received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award, and the Los Angeles newsgroup he previously worked at was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting. Anastasi has had many other accomplishments, but the one he believes the most in is his founding of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) Diversity Fellowship Program.
Anastasi came from California, a diverse state and he remarked that his classrooms at CSULB were always diverse too, so he naturally built a diverse news team, which was different from other news teams. Anastasi said he “discovered that in the Journalism field, representation was poor.” He decided to improve the industry with the program’s development, to increase diverse leadership. Recently, Nashville was recognized for its diverse reporting teams.
Anastasi carried out what he has learned from growing up in California and applied it to his Journalism career. Anastasi feels connected to California and to CSULB. In reflecting on growing up he says, “giving back was something I always wanted to do, but for a long time I had no resources to spare.” Now that Anastasi is more established, he and Julie endowed a scholarship award in Journalism. He says, “people like me have an obligation to put a hand down and help the next person.” The scholarship was set up in 2015, and Anastasi ensured it would continue forever. “We will still have that hand reaching out for people not even born yet,” Anastasi states.
Reflecting on the alumni community, Anastasi believes that too often “university is viewed as transactional.” However, he believes education is a privilege and to return the favor by being involved or giving back to help “uplift and make the state better.” Anastasi puts his beliefs into action and has been serving on the advisory board since 2008 for the Department of Journalism and Public Relations. Anastasi attends the meetings virtually but attends meetings in person when he can.
In response to how he would like the alumni community to change and expand as new alumni enter, he says, “I hope the CSULB alumni increasingly commit or recommit to an ethos of service. You [CSULB alumni] have so much to offer California and the nation beyond.”