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David Muir reflects on childhood as he reveals unexpected reaction to career-defining news: 'How old am I?'

The World News Tonight and 20/20 anchor has had an illustrious journalism career spanning nearly three decades

David Muir attends the 2013 Newhouse Mirror Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 5, 2013 in New York City.
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
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David Muir is the latest proud recipient of the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, presented by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, part of Arizona State University.

The ABC News anchor, 50, gave a speech at the ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona last week, reflecting on his decades-long career and specifically highlighting key emotional moments of his journey.

David spoke openly about encouraging journalism students to find the "truth" and focus on going to the story to get to its real essence, speaking of his experiences covering Hurricane Katrina, the Ukraine war, and the climate change-induced famines in South Madagascar.

However, he started off his speech on a lighter note, joking with the audience while thanking his team at ABC News, specifically the executive producers and those he works with on World News Tonight.

He detailed his reaction to receiving the honor, which left the audience in hysterics, saying: "You know, when I learned that I would be receiving the Cronkite honor this year, the first thing I thought was 'Wait a minute, how old am I?'"

David playfully added: "I did have a big birthday this last year, but the Cronkite award was entirely unexpected."

David Muir's Acceptance Speech - Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism

Speaking of his early years in journalism, which began with a childhood as an eager visitor to local newsrooms, he continued: "I stand before you today and I still feel like the kid intern at 13 years old, I'm still just getting started."

The popular news anchor was bitten by the journalism bug at a very early age and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Ithaca College in 1995.

SEE: David Muir looks so different in teenage throwbacks – and he's all legs

While interning throughout college, he landed his first full-time broadcast gig with WTVH-TV, a local network in Syracuse, New York under the CBS umbrella.

David Muir anchoring for WTVH-TV in Syracuse circa 1991© Lee Goldberg/WTVH-TV
David anchoring for WTVH-TV in Syracuse circa 1991

From 1994-2000, David was a reporter for the network, embarking on notable international expeditions while also anchoring their news show, for which he received several plaudits.

MORE: David Muir reveals A-list family connection that leaves fans stunned

His reports from Israel and the Gaza Strip following the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin earned him acclaim and several awards, being deemed one of the best local news anchors in Syracuse and being honored by the Associated Press with "Best Enterprise Reporting" and "Best Television Interview."

ABC News Anchor DAVID MUIR reporting on the Mitt Romney event. Mitt Romney Campaigns in South Florida On His Bus Tour For A Stronger Middle Class IN The Cuban Area Of South Florida© Getty Images
By the early 2010s, David became a fixture for ABC News

After a stint with ABC-owned WCVB from 2000-2003, he was made part of the ABC News reporting team, starting as an anchor on ABC World News Now.

MORE: David Muir's unexpected remark about World News Tonight following challenging experience

In 2007, he was made the co-anchor of World News Saturday and was made the lead anchor of the weekend broadcasts in 2012, which was renamed to World News with David Muir. In 2013, he was promoted to co-anchor of 20/20 alongside Elizabeth Vargas. Elizabeth was succeeded by Amy Robach, who departed in 2023 and was succeeded in turn by Deborah Roberts.

WORLD NEWS TONIGHT WITH DAVID MUIR - David Muir anchors, "World News Tonight with David Muir,"  weeknights, 6:30pm ET on ABC© Getty Images
In 2014, he assumed the role of lead anchor of "World News Tonight"

David then assumed his most well-known position, lead anchor of ABC's World News Tonight, on September 1, 2014.

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