By Stewart, Pearl
Diverse Issues in Higher Education , Vol. 29, No. 16
Brett Pulley was bitten by the news bug at Hampton University in the late 1970s when he became news editor of the student paper. After graduating in 1980, he earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and since then, his career has skyrocketed to such venerable heights as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Bloomberg News.
Pulley has been a part of the journalism industry's turbulent transformation from traditional print and broadcast to cutting-edge new media, a process that has seen numerous print publications fold or reduce their operations. Now he is back at Hampton as dean of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications with a positive, even ebullient, view of the industry's future.
"What it amounts to is not the demise of an industry--it's about the irrevocable, fundamental change in that industry," Pulley says.
But, Pulley says, one thing has remained static. "It's still about putting one word after another. Maybe right now, unfortunately, not enough of a premium is placed on putting together nice, impressive words," he laughs, adding, "but that's just a phase we're going through." He says the industry is still fascinated with "the distribution and gadgets as opposed to the content.... But there is an incredible amount of opportunity out there as the proliferation of digital platforms continues."
When Hampton President William R. Harvey appointed him dean in January, he lauded Pulleys "vast knowledge and experience in journalism and digital media." That experience has included being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize at The New York Times and authoring a book about BET founder Robert L. Johnson. Pulley also ran an Internet company, NewYork.com.
"I think he's a good role model," says Richard Prince, who writes the blog Journal-isms on the Maynard Institute website and has followed Pulleys career moves. "Students can just look at him and see the kind of path they should select." Prince said he also knows that Pulley is "extremely loyal to Hampton and has a good sense of ethics."
In a few months, Pulley has already begun to inspire and motivate his students, according to his colleagues. "What I see from Brett is he is very interested in getting students immersed in digital media and cross-platform media," says Wayne Dawkins, an assistant professor of journalism at Hampton. "He is also going to emphasize financial journalism and narrative long-form writing."
As one of the nation's top historically Black universities, Hampton's success in educating future journalists helps increase diversity in the nation's media centers.
Pulley is quick to acknowledge that he doesn't want his graduates to simply seek jobs in media; rather, he envisions them becoming creators and developers, not only of content, but of new platforms. …