Around Tappan Square

Award Winning Journalist Brings Real-World Experience to Class

Oberlin students eager to break into the world of journalism have been waiting for someone like Sam Fulwood for years. A columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and co-host of a PBS talk show, the award-winning journalist is teaching a class this semester titled Studies in Journalism.

"Except for the training sessions offered by senior staff members of the Review for new writers, the College has never offered formal classes in journalism," says Ireta Kraal '02. A long-term manager of the Review, Kraal was one of several students who proposed the new course to the College last year.

"There has been a long-standing student interest in the subject," says Jan Cooper, John C. Reid Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition, whose department invited Fulwood to campus. "We're very excited about having a journalist of Mr. Fulwood's stature teaching the course."

"I'm glad the College has brought in someone who's actually worked in the field," Kraal adds. "Students want to hear about how members of the media are addressing current issues in their writing and how the media in general disperses information to the public."

Fulwood earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. At Oberlin, his real-world experience is a welcome addition to the classroom, where students are given daily reading assignments from The New York Times and are asked to examine "the whole range of how we as individuals and as a society communicate with each other.

"The students also are watching movies and television shows and reading extensively," says Fulwood. "We are looking at the big-picture issues in the communication arts--race in the media, the role that rumor plays in information, myth-making, and the stereotyping that goes all the way back to Homer and the Iliad.

"We'll see how all media employ myth and stereotype to form the basis for what we all know and share as information. By the end of the semester, the students should be able to effectively look at a piece of media and put it in the context of news, information, and advertising."

To help his students acquire these skills, Fulwood is drawing upon his experience as a three-times-a-week columnist for the Plain Dealer; author; and reporter for the Baltimore Sun, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, and his hometown newspaper, North Carolina's Charlotte Observer.

As a Times' correspondent in the nation's capital, Fulwood reported on domestic social issues as a congressional reporter, covered the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections, and created a national race-relations beat. In 1992, he and several other staff members won the Pulitzer Prize for their work covering the riots that followed the Rodney King beating in South Central Los Angeles.

During his time at Oberlin, Fulwood also plans to draw upon his television experiences to help expose his students to issues in the media. Although he is devoting a good portion of his time to teaching, Fulwood is also busy taping VillageAmerica, a half-hour PBS news magazine show that examines national stories from multicultural perspectives.

"You can't be a functioning individual or a member of a collective in our society today and not be influenced or affected by the media's enormous reach," Fulwood says. "More than anything, I want the students in this class to come away with a deeper understanding of what it is they are looking at when all this stuff washes over them." His impression of Oberlin students? "Bright, inquisitive, demanding and committed to what they are doing!"


by Betty Gabrielli


Correction: Professor James Millette's review of The Emperor's New Clothes (Fall 2001) contained an editing error. The copy should have read: "The emperor had no clothes; but who would tell him so? The only one who dared was the little boy, uninhibited by the presumption that emperors are not supposed to be naked.

In strict scientific terms, race is a myth. But the mythology is so powerful that those who question its validity were for a long time, and sometimes still are, frequently supposed to be foolish and ignorant, while those who indulged, and sometimes still do indulge in racist superstition, have profited mightily from their beliefs and are to be counted among the powerful, the wealthy, the cultured, and the educated."


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