The Oberlin-Columbia Connection Honors

Journalists Dennis Redmont '62 and
Tom Rosenstiel '78
(photo by Chris Taggart)

For a college without a journalism major, Oberlin has produced a number of prominent writers, editors, and news broadcasters. Some 43 living Oberlin graduates earned master’s degrees at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, long considered the nation’s most prestigious. Each year, Columbia gives achievement awards to four of its graduates. In an unusual coincidence, two of the four honorees this April were Oberlinians: Dennis Redmont ’62 and Tom Rosenstiel ’78.

Redmont, the son of foreign news correspondent Bernard Redmont, grew up in Argentina. After majoring in government at Oberlin, where he was a sports reporter for the Review, he knew he wanted a career abroad. He had three choices, he said: diplomacy, working for the United Nations, or journalism. He landed an internship with the Associated Press and never left. As head of AP’s Rome bureau, he has won many awards and created an AP intern program that has trained hundreds of young journalists.

Redmont picked up his award at Columbia just in time to return to Rome to cover the selection of the new pope. Former AP President Louis Boccardi calls Redmont “a wonderful representative of a diminishing breed—American journalists who make their professional lives abroad in countries they come to understand—and transmit to the world with what I might call native fluency.”

Rosenstiel worked on his high school newspaper in California before majoring in English at Oberlin, where he spent the better part of his sophomore and junior years at the Review office, serving as editor his junior year. After graduating from Columbia, he worked as a reporter at a small California paper, later moving to the Los Angeles Times to cover national media and politics. He then joined Newsweek to cover Congress.

In 1996, the Pew Charitable Trusts asked Rosenstiel to create what became the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a national project that aims to improve the profession. His 2001 book with journalist Bill Kovach, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and What the Public Should Expect, is now a standard in journalism training around the nation. “You’d be hard put to find someone who is having so broad and salutary effect on journalism today as Tom Rosenstiel,” says University of Missouri journalism professor Geneva Overholser.

The Oberlin-Columbia tradition continues. This year’s Columbia directory lists three Oberlin grads in its Class of 2005: Channing Joseph ’03, John Kearney ’94, and Andrew LaVallee ’98.

–Ted Gest ’68

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