The 189th commencement ceremony of IU was filled with historical references, from Theodore Roosevelt's 1918 commencement speech at IU to John F. Kennedy's commencement address at Yale University in 1962.
However, each reference was related to the same concept — the importance of truth.
The speeches delivered by Paul Tash, a 1976 IU graduate and the chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times and Times Publishing Co., as well as by IU President Michael McRobbie, centered around the role of truth in society.
"Venerate the truth," McRobbie said. "Search for it, defend it when it is challenged, value the experience and expertise of others, remain humble in the face of complexity."
Tash and McRobbie spoke Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium as 6,825 graduates received their associate and bachelor's degrees from IU. The undergraduate commencement recognized students who completed their degree requirements by May and those who will complete their requirements by the end of August.
The class included students from all 50 states as well as from 96 different countries. Yet, Tash used the example of Ernie Pyle, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and former IU student who died in Japan while reporting World War II, as proof of journalism's purpose is to serve everyone.
A statue of Pyle is located outside Franklin Hall on campus.
"Its purpose there illustrates the higher purpose of journalism," Tash said. "To serve the greater public good. Ernie Pyle belongs to all of us. He wrote for everybody."
Before Tash spoke, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees were awarded to five people. Lois and Sidney Eskenazi, Stephen Ferguson, Amos Sawyer and Will Shortz each received the honor.
Tash referenced the reporting done to reveal the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal and the media coverage of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory to show the importance of journalism and the danger of fake news.
"My turn at the podium today honors the proud tradition of journalism at Indiana University, and it recognizes journalism as an essential foundation of a healthy democracy," Tash said. "There is such a thing as fake news and we discount it at our peril."
Tash also used the example of P.T. Barnum, the American promoter who founded the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1871, to help explain the role of journalism. Tash said Barnum said the bigger the hokum in the circus, the better Barnum's audiences would like it.
But Tash said journalism tries to dispel the hokum.
"Another name for fake news is propaganda," Tash said. "Those who crave power will use it to move hearts and minds."
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the statue of Ernie Pyle was located outside Ernie Pyle Hall. It was not located outside Ernie Pyle Hall. The IDS regrets this error.