Academic journal article Journalism History

Inventing Medill: A History of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1921-1996

Academic journal article Journalism History

Inventing Medill: A History of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1921-1996

Article excerpt

Snyder, Alice. Inventing Medill: A History of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1921-1996. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University, 1996. 267 pp. $19.95.

When Chicago Tribune reporter Eddie Doherty proposed a journalism program in 1920 that would become Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, he envisioned a collection of practical courses for newspapermen, who at the time learned their skills on the job and whose opportunities were limited by lack of education. The school, named for former Tribune editor and publisher Joseph Medill, opened a year later.

In Alice W. Snyder's history of the school, published for its seventy-fifth anniversary, she chronicles Medill's evolution from Doherty's vision of a trade school to one of the leading schools of journalism. She traces the development of liberal arts core requirements, which became a standard for accredited journalism schools, and follows the addition of graduate programs and the expansion of the curriculum to accommodate students who wanted careers besides newspaper reporting and editing. She also explores the myriad ties between the school and professional journalists, some of whom serve as adjunct professors and others who attend continuing education programs.

Throughout Medill's history, many of its faculty have come from the profession rather than from academe. Their demands for excellence and their teaching of professional standards have contributed greatly to the school's reputation. Snyder's description of the teaching styles of the school's legendary professors, such as Curtis MacDougall, Benjamin H. Baldwin, and Elizabeth Yamashita, adds to the value of the history. In 1980, three of the school's most highly respected faculty left Medill during a period of dissension over faculty governance. …

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