Magazine article The Quill

Half a Century Strengthens SPJ Commitment

Magazine article The Quill

Half a Century Strengthens SPJ Commitment

Article excerpt

April of 1950 was not an earth-shaking month, but it managed to make some history. President Truman fired Gen. Douglas McArthur. Jordan annexed the West Bank. Composer Kurt Weill died, as did the great dancer Nijinsky. In Las Vegas, the Desert Inn opened.

And - less prominently but of importance to journalism- a young University of Oklahoma student named Arnold Ismach joined Sigma Delta Chi.

"It was considered an honor to join," Ismach recalls today - after 50 years in SDX and its successor, the Society of Professional Journalists. "We had to apply and be voted in by the chapter membership. They looked at your grade-point average - mine wasn't the greatest - and at whether you were active in journalism." The chapter elders investigated potential members in secrecy as each of them lived under mounting suspense, wondering: Will I get in?

Ismach got in, and he has spent the half-century since as a journalist and as a teacher and exemplar of what journalism and SDX/SPJ represent. This includes adaptability: A native New Yorker, he has been at home in many places and roles - as long as they involved news. After college, and after running the Second Armored Division's public-information section in Germany from 1952 to 1954, he worked at the Walla Walla (Wash.) Union-Bulletin and then the San Bernardino (Calif.) Sun-Telegram, where he became city editor.

By 1973, he had a doctorate and joined the University of Minnesota, where he headed news-editorial teaching and advised the student paper. In 1985 Ismach moved to the University of Oregon as dean of journalism. …

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