Reid Hall Times, Winter 2012


Happy new year from Reid Hall, where we are bracing for the usual brisk pace of winter term, plus the quadrennial Mock Convention.  Classes resumed on Monday and we are looking forward to a productive 2012.  Here are some updates.


— Pam Luecke, Department Head




Faculty and Staff


Bob DeMaria has decided to retire at the end of the 2012-13 academic year, after more than 35 years teaching in Reid Hall (well, there was that one year in the trailers while Reid Hall was renovated).  He will, of course, be impossible to replace, but we will begin a search for a successor this summer.  He is not going away quietly; this spring he will take his course “The Vietnam War and the Journalists Who Covered It” on the road – for a two-week trip in country.

 Emeritus Professor Hampden Smith, who led the department for 14 years and was instrumental in its transition to the digital age, will be inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame April 12. Smith will join several other W&L faculty in the Hall, including Lou Hodges and the late Ron MacDonald.

Doug Cumming’s book, “The Lexington Letters: Two Centuries of Water Under the Bridge,” came out just in time for Christmas, and he has been featured on local radio, television and in newspapers. The compilation of letters to local newspapers over the past two centuries grew out of a collaboration with Prof. Kimberly Jew in the theater department and relied on the research skills of many students and community members.  (You can purchase a copy through the University Store.)

Brian Richardson spent his fall sabbatical updating his textbook, “The Process of Writing News,” and it is now available online.  The text, which is the foundation for the Introduction to Reporting course required of all our majors, now incorporates social media and Twitter!  Check it out at

Claudette Artwick also plans to update her text, “Reporting and Producing for Digital Media,” on a sabbatical in fall 2012.  (We often remark about how frequently journalism faculty have to rethink and revamp what they teach, as the digital communications revolution continues.  In that process, though, we try not to lose sight of the fundamental principles that have always been the cornerstone of W&L’s journalism department.)

Dayo Abah and Toni Locy were invited to present a paper they co-authored to the MediaAsia conference in Osaka, Japan in November. Rather than fly halfway around the world, they presented it virtually from Reid Hall’s television studio.  The topic of the paper: “Online Anonymous Speech and Shield Laws in the United States.”

Prof. Abah presented a campus talk in November on the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Her talk was part of a series of talks by professors from various disciplines about the prizes.

Ed Wasserman’s column, which has been carried by newspapers for years, is now also being featured on the Huffington Post.  You can also follow his work at  Ed, who holds the Knight Chair in Journalism Ethics, was also part of the committee that helped shape the university’s new Mudd Center for Ethics, which is being made possible by a generous gift from Roger Mudd,’50.  A search is underway for the center’s first director.

Two visiting professors this past fall brought new ideas and energy to the department.  Dow Smith, a broadcast executive for 25 years, taught broadcast reporting and producing for Indira Somani, who is on sabbatical.   Dow, who has previously taught at Syracuse University and Siena College, is with us again this winter and is teaching  a new course especially for students outside the department:  “Good News, Bad News: Critical Perspectives on Journalism for Non-Majors.”  Also visiting this fall was Glenn Proctor, who retired in June as editor of The Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Glenn was our Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor and taught a seminar entitled “Media Management and Entrepreneurship.” 


Students and Alumni

Catherine Carlock, ’10, joined Prof. Cumming’s first-year seminar on “The Press and the Civil Rights Movement” in October  on a field trip to where the student protest phase of the Movement began 51 years ago – Greensboro, N.C.  The class began its visit at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which opened last year in the former F.W. Woolworth store downtown. Catherine is a reporter for the Business Journal in Greensboro, and has recently started giving on-air business reports for the local CBS affiliate (having plenty of anchoring experience from our Rockbridge Report broadcasts). After getting an exclusive tour of the original 60-stool lunch counter where the sit-ins began, a “Hall of Shame” and other powerful representations of America’s story of rights and race, the W&L group got a tour of Catherine’s newsroom, and lunched at the popular Natty Greene’s. Then the class visited the Beloved Community Center, a 1991 initiative of black activist clergy seeking to keep the Movement moving into areas of sustainable community and racial reconciliation. There the students heard from the widow of one of the five labor and community organizers killed during a peaceful protest in what is now known as the Greensboro Massacre of 1979. The massacre by Klan and neo-Nazi locals, all acquitted, is not mentioned in the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, as the students learned from their Blessed Community Center hosts. They came back with an understanding that history is not fixed, but is a living and contested story.

Three current seniors attended the fall conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in October, which happily took place during Reading Days this year: Robert Grattan, Brooke Sutherland and Killeen KingSeven alums working in business journalism joined them and Pam Luecke at a reception one evening at The New York Times:  Mary Childs,’08, Bloomberg News; Alex Scaggs, ’09, Institutional Investor; Robb Soukup, ’08, and Nathan Stovall ’03, both at SNL Financial; Kelly Evans, ’07. Wall Street Journal;  Jane Lee, ’09,; and Bill Roberts ’83, now a media consultant.  Robert and Brooke already have post-graduate internships working in business journalism; Brooke will be with Bloomberg News and Robert will be with the Austin Business Journal.

 Robert Sherwood Diehl died in December at 71.  After graduating from W&L in 1961, he started work as a sports reporter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch; he retired from the Times-Dispatch in 2002 as its copy desk chief.  In the Times-Dispatch’s obituary, the paper’s President and Publisher Thomas A. Silvestri  said of Diehl:  “In a business that’s all about deadline, Bob Diehl was the model of consistency. He added good humor, excellent teamwork and grace under pressure to his talents.”



Reid Hall Activities


Reid Hall’s third floor has seen many innovations in recent years, but the latest one might surprise you. Prof. Artwick “won” from our Human Resources Department the loan of a treadmill desk for winter term.  This is part of the university’s attempt to improve employees’ health.  We’ll let you know how that goes.

 The department faculty began writing its Self-Study in preparation for a re-accreditation site visit in October 2012.  The department is one of only 110 accredited programs in the United States; of those, only 19 are private colleges or universities. 


Michael Todd, the department’s manager of technical operations, helped us migrate the Rockbridge Report from a Dreamweaver platform to WordPress. The new format is not without its challenges, but both students and faculty agree it looks more contemporary and professional.   Check it out at:

 Also on WordPress are the stories produced by Prof. Locy’s “Legal Reporting” class:




 Although Prof. Somani will remain on sabbatical this winter, she will take part in a five-part faculty/student symposium on campus entitled  “Dislocation: A symposium on the ever-shifting concepts of place, belonging, and identity.”  Her Feb. 15 talk will be on “Diaspora, Identity and Media,” which she has been researching while on a Fulbright Fellowship in India.  (See her blog at  )

 Professors Luecke, Locy, Richardson and Artwick will take part in the March 2-3 Institute for Honor, whose topic is “The New Conversation: How Are the News Media Shaping Our Political Beliefs?” The keynote speaker will be Ken Auletta, media observer for The New Yorker and best-selling author of 11 books, including Googled: The End of the World As We Know It. Also on the program is Tom Mattesky, ’74, former Washington deputy bureau chief for CBS News. The annual institute, coordinated by the university’s Special Programs office, is supported by a gift from the Class of 1960.

Jackie Spinner, a young journalist who covered the war in Iraq for the Washington Post, will visit Feb. 12-14 as the Fishback Lecturer.  She is author of the book “Tell Them I Didn’t Cry,” which details her experience as a war reporter.  The Fishback Program for Visiting Writers was begun in 1996 thanks to a generous gift from Sara and William H. Fishback Jr., ’56, in memory of Margaret Haggin Haupt Fishback and William Hunter Fishback.  Speakers visit students in several classes and give a public lecture.

Dan Gillmor, an internationally recognized author and leader in new media and citizen-based journalism, will be the keynote speaker for the winter Media Ethics Institute.  His public address will be Friday, March 16.


We welcome your thoughts, updates and news; send items to Melissa Cox,  And please look us up if you’re coming to Mock Convention Feb. 10-11 or Alumni Weekend May 10-12!


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