Reid Hall Times, Summer 2011

Aug. 25, 2011

Greetings again from Reid Hall, where the summer has brought all kinds of surprises!

First was a governor’s French academy in residence for three weeks, which had us all greeting each other with “bonjour.” Then there was yesterday’s earthquake, which we did indeed hear and feel in Reid Hall.  There was no damage on campus, as far as we can tell.

But perhaps most noteworthy this summer was a delivery of Macintosh computers – Reid Hall’s first!  Technology Manager Michael Todd spent early August installing them in half of the “J-lab;” we are now bracing for a fall adjustment by students and faculty.  The change was recommended by the faculty in recognition of the fact that many of the innovations in communications are arising from Apple. In addition, a majority of entering Washington and Lee students arrive with Macs. The faculty all now have iPads, as well, and hope to find ways to incorporate its capabilities – and that of other new devices and technologies – into our classes.

Below are some other updates as we look forward to the start of the school year.

— Pam Luecke, Department Head



Brian Richardson is on leave this fall to update his textbook, “The Process of Writing News.”  The text is the backbone of our Journalism 201 course, “Introduction to Reporting,” where students are taught the principles of news gathering and writing.

Indira Somani will be on leave the entire year. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue research in India this fall and will be off the rest of the academic year on a pre-tenure leave.

Replacing her for fall and winter terms will be Dow Smith, a broadcast producer and executive for 25 years who has also taught at Syracuse University and Siena College, near Albany.  Smith is author of the book “Power Producer,” which our broadcast faculty have used for years.

Also visiting this fall is Glenn Proctor, who retired in June as editor of The Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Glenn will be our Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor and teach  “Media Management and Entrepreneurship.” He will also guest-teach in several other classes and play a role in each week’s “Rockbridge Report.”

Doug Cumming spent four weeks this summer teaching in a multimedia journalism program in Urbino, Italy, co-sponsored by James Madison University and Iowa State University.  More than two dozen students from around the world took part and showcased the result of their work on this website: Urbino Project 2011. You might also enjoy reading Doug’s account of the experience on his blog: “DCumming in Italia.”

Ed Wasserman immersed himself in U.S. journalism for a month by arranging his own “externship” at the Miami Herald, one of the newspapers where he previously worked.  His column about Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp. hacking scandal got widespread play.

Claudette Artwick has been researching two digital media projects this summer.  One surveyed Rockbridge area residents on their use of the Internet, in anticipation of the region getting broadband access next year.  The other project, supported by a Lenfest research grant, examines journalists’ Twitter habits.

Toni Locy also had a Lenfest grant this summer to complete a textbook on legal reporting, due out next year from Peter Lang Publishing Inc.


Bob DeMaria is taking his popular course about “The Vietnam War and the Journalists Who Covered It” on location in Spring 2012.  He is working with CET Academic Programs on logistics, which are considerable!

Dayo Abah took part in an intensive teaching workshop this summer at Rollins College in Florida.  She and Brian Murchison, a professor in the School of Law, will have a chance again this fall to co-teach “Contemporary Problems in Law and Journalism,” the only course in the university that straddles the law and undergraduate campuses.

Pam Luecke reviewed for The New York Times “Reckless Endangerment,” by Gretchen Morgenson, one of many recent books about the cause of the 2008 financial crisis.  She also attended a thought-provoking workshop at Transylvania University entitled  “Twenty-first Century Liberal Education: A Contested Concept.”


We are delighted to report that many of our May 2011 graduates have gainful employment in journalism and communications fields!  Among the positions:

Alex Harper, assistant account executive at Fleishman-Hillard International;  Katie Geddes, news associate with CBS News in New York City; Holly Suthers, online producer/digital director for WHSV in Harrisonburg, Va.; and Alicia Budich, associate web editor, Several seniors have accepted post-graduate internships, which are increasingly common and often lead to full-time work. Allison Chopin, for example, has an internship as a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Jason Cimino is an administrative assistant for the vice president of global sales at Dow Jones.

We had 36 rising juniors and seniors on internships this summer, from Florida to Seattle. Intern Coordinator John Muncie reports that this may be a record!  All will give oral reports on their experiences this fall and submit papers and portfolios.  Thanks to generous foundations and alums, we are able to provide stipends to many of our students who take unpaid internships, which are (sadly) becoming the industry norm.


The department’s alumni advisory board met on campus May 11-12 to offer insights about our curriculum and the industry. Several members who couldn’t come to campus participated by conference call. Their advice was invaluable and is being incorporated into the department’s thinking as we reflect on what we should be teaching our students about journalism in this unsettled time.  A list of the board’s members can be found here:


The department faculty will be spending this year writing a Self-Study in anticipation of a re-accreditation site visit, either in fall 2012 or winter 2013.  The department is one of only 110 accredited programs in the United States; of those, only 19 are at private colleges or universities.  Washington and Lee is the only top-tier liberal arts college in the country with an accredited journalism program.

Reid Hall Activities

The department already has several events and speakers lined up for this fall:

With the help of the activities director of Elrod Commons, the department is hosting the Lexington premiere of “Page One: Inside The New York Times.”  The movie was released earlier in metropolitan areas earlier this year but we figured it would be a while before it arrived in Lexington!  A screening at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26 will be followed by a panel discussion by several department faculty.

Matt Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, will be the keynote speaker for the fall ethics institute.  His public address will be Friday, Nov. 11.

Come Visit!

Don’t forget to stop by if you’re coming to Homecoming/Young Alumni Weekend this year: Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

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