The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


Journalism became an independent department in 1929, and exactly 50 years later it was to merge with elements of Page  176the Speech Communication and Theatre Department to become the Department of Communication. When a formal Department of Journalism was established in 1929, it was headed by John L. Brumm. He turned over the chairmanship in 1948 to Wesley H. Maurer, who remained chairman until his retirement in 1966. At that time, he was succeeded by William E. Porter and seven years later Peter Clarke became chairman. The Department of Journalism had only four chairmen.

In a memorandum to University President Clarence Cook Little, Brumm stated the case for professional training for journalism within the broad educational objectives of the University: "The professional courses, under the direction of the faculty in journalism should be designed to enable students to make practical application of the knowledge acquired in their social, industrial, political, and historical studies to the problems of newspaper writing and editing."

Except for broadening to encompass other media, that has remained the teaching philosophy of the department. With the years, the curriculum has expanded to include magazines, technical journals, industrial and business publications, and broadcasting. For the most part, these changes were made without adding new courses which focused on a particular medium. Rather, existing courses were broadened to emphasize similarities across media.

There was steady pressure through the years, especially from the newspapermen of the state, for two changes: for an independent school of journalism, in the pattern of Columbia and Northwestern, and for the journalism faculty to make the Michigan Daily into a laboratory paper.

The University of Michigan never has controlled its student newspaper. Journalism faculty insisted that it was impossible to "direct" a publication without imposing censorship and that it could not teach the values of a free press, while at the same time, censoring a paper. So, the Daily always remained a student-run operation, with its own budget and its own, changing standards. Many journalism students were editors and staff members, but they worked for the Daily on the same extracurricular basis as other students and not for journalism course credit.

Page  177Since 1925, the Department of Journalism has published a laboratory newspaper, The Michigan Journalist, mailed without cost to newspapers, broadcasters and libraries throughout the nation. It is published several times during the school year and serves as a showcase for student reporting and writing.

The University Press Club of Michigan, organized in 1919 by Brumm, brought together the editors of the state for an annual conference to update their knowledge and to solicit their support for the University and for the department. During the 1920s, this organization urged the University administration to set up a school of journalism in its own building, but the administration felt otherwise. The journalism faculty saw the advantage of keeping journalism clearly rooted in and among the broader liberal arts courses. Student professional organizations have brought many enrichments, such as outside speakers and field trips to the formal curriculum.

When the Hopwood Awards were established in 1929 to reward student excellence in all forms of writing, the Department of Journalism was one of the organizing departments. It has remained so through the years.

The crush of returning World War II veterans changed the department as it did all units. In 1947, there were three full-time instructors; by 1970, the number was 11. Always there were part-timers, drawn from nearby media who brought fresh insights to journalism students. While the number of concentrators grew steadily, the size of classes grew even faster. Journalism courses always were popular electives with students in other fields, and the department often offered service courses, specifically geared for students in other schools and colleges, such as Public Health, Engineering, and Education.

Virtually all the men and women who have taught in the department have had media experience. Brumm and Porter were both successful magazine writers, while Maurer owned and operated community newspapers before, during, and after his tenure as chairman. Perhaps the most distinguished professional journalist was Leland Stowe. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence and a much-honored World Page  178War II correspondent, Stowe continued to live in Ann Arbor and to serve as a roving editor for Reader's Digest.

In 1973 the department launched its mid-career fellowship for journalists, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Professor Ben Yablonky was founding director of the program, which has continued uninterrupted. Twelve experienced news persons came to the Ann Arbor campus for nine months of independent study organized around humanities and professional seminars presented by the department.

The department hosted many conferences and short courses through the years, an activity that would be expanded in 1974 with the generous bequest of Howard R. Marsh, a University alumnus and former Michigan journalist. This gift established the Howard R. Marsh Center for the Study of Journalistic Performance, an endowed center within the department which sponsored visits by outstanding professionals to the campus and which organized conferences and published booklets which might prove useful to working professionals.

In 1953, the first in a series of summer workshops for advisers and staff members of high school publications was held. The Michigan Interscholastic Press Association was housed in the department for 50 years.

Beginning in 1947, the University Lectures in Journalism brought 10 to 12 major speakers to the campus. These included not only famed journalists but also civil liberties attorneys, cartoonists, historians, and controversial figures such as William Worthy, the black journalist denied a passport to report from Cuba and China, and P. D. East, the editor of a Mississippi weekly who used satire to further integration efforts.

The department began offering graduate courses in 1932, and in 1936 the program was revised so as to admit only those who had received their B.A. in journalism at Michigan. Before beginning two years of courses at the graduate level, the student worked for a summer on a Michigan weekly or daily paper.

Maurer organized a unique system of internships in 1947, and the program went national in 1952. By the time Page  179of his retirement, in 1966, 40 students had been on post-B.A. internships, many on Michigan community newspapers; another 40 foreign students had served such internships after a year's campus preparation, and many students had summer internships. The total was about 200. Michigan faculty members traveled to the jobs to confer with the interns and their supervisors.

At the M.A. level, students studied for four semesters on campus and then went on for two-year internships on national publications and occasionally on foreign media. At all levels the students were paid the prevailing wage rates and not exploited by employers or "paid" by the University with academic credit.

The undergraduate and graduate programs were further separated in 1967 and 1968 revisions. The major change at the M.A. level was to combine workshop courses in writing, editing, reporting, and broadcasting into a single firstterm. By the mid-1960s, there were plans to add a doctorate and in 1973, these plans resulted in the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Mass Communication, supervised by the departments of Journalism, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology. This degree was designed to train not only academics, but researchers for the media, industry, and government.

The Haven Hall fire of June, 1950, routed the department from its home of many years. After a few weeks of sanctuary in the Rackham Building, the department took up quarters in Mason Hall, where it remained until 1969. With the move to the former Administration Building, now renamed the Literature, Sciences, and the Arts Building, the department entered the 1970s physically, as well as psychologically, close to the center of the liberal arts tradition.