Honorary doctorate for ITN journalist Mark Austin

ITN newsreader Mark Austin has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Bournemouth University.

The ITV Evening News anchor, who will replace Sir Trevor McDonald when he retires from the News at Ten this month, thanked the Bournemouth Echo for giving him his first break in journalism more than 30 years ago.

Accepting the award at a ceremony at the Bournemouth International Centre on Friday, Austin said: “I have a long-standing connection with Bournemouth.

“I lived here for many years, went to Bournemouth School and started my career at the Bournemouth Echo which was fantastic and led to my being lucky enough to cover some of the greatest events of the past 20 to 25 years.”

After a spell as a reporter at the BBC, Austin joined ITN in the mid-Eighties and has covered major stories including both Gulf wars, the Balkan conflict, Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami.

Last week, he fronted ITN’s coverage of the US elections in Washington DC – and said the rise of the victorious Democratic candidate Barack Obama should inspire new graduates.

“I suppose that, as a graduate, if you are thinking about something that you really want to do and in the back of your mind is the thought that you’ll never be able to do it then perhaps Barack Obama is the image you should follow,” he said.

‘What he has done is quite extraordinary – the triumph of hope and optimism, the story of the possible. If you take nothing away from this week take away the lesson that anything is possible.’

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