Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

A Creed for My Profession: Walter Williams, Journalist to the World

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

A Creed for My Profession: Walter Williams, Journalist to the World

Article excerpt

A Creed for My Profession: Walter Williams, Journalist to the World. By Ronald T. Fan'ar. Missouri Biography Series. (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, c. 1998. Pp. xiv, 246. $29.95, ISBN 0-8262-1188-7.)

Neither the history of Missouri nor the history of journalism is complete without including the life story of Walter Williams. As a pioneer who strove to make his field a profession, Williams founded the world's first successful school of journalism and also authored The Journalist's Creed (1914), a professional code of ethics.

Ronald T. Farrar, a former newspaperman, interweaves the colorful background of Missouri history throughout the biographical sketch of this important journalism pioneer. Williams was from the start a politician and understood that to be successful in the newspaper business, he had to know and influence the right people. While he had his enemies, Williams eventually succeeded in bringing more respect to his life's calling. Farrar makes excellent use of the existing primary sources created by Williams and his wife. More emphasis on tile history of journalism from more varied sources, however, would have strengthened this work.

Williams dedicated his life to journalism and never pretended to be anything more than a journalist. In fact, he repeatedly declined opportunities to attain statewide political office in favor of continuing his work as a newspaperman. And, despite his own lack of a formal education, Williams advocated it and greatly valued the respect of the intellectual community. Williams hoped to convince the nation's intellectual elite that journalism was a vital element of the nation's democracy and the "keeper of the conscience" (p. …

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