by Steve Weinberg
University of Missouri Press, 2008
Cloth: 978-0-8262-1796-7 | eISBN: 978-0-8262-6646-0
Library of Congress Classification PN4791.U55W45 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 070.4071177829


It might seem unlikely that a midwestern university located far from national media centers would be home to the world’s first journalism school, but the University of Missouri holds that distinction. Now celebrating its centennial, the School of Journalism, founded by a newsman who lacked a college education, is regarded as one of the highest-rated in the world.

Steve Weinberg, an alumnus and investigative reporter who returned to teach at Missouri, now covers—and uncovers—the many-faceted history of its School of Journalism, from the days of Walter Williams through the Dean Mills era. A Journalism of Humanity balances the dynamics of the university that set the school’s course with the external forces that shaped journalism and society. True to journalism, it reveals the school’s flaws as well as its virtues.

Bringing his investigative expertise to bear, Weinberg tells the school’s complex story through thematic chapters. He draws on internal documents and correspondence to uncover the politics of the school from its founding to the present—the struggles over resources as well as the constant battle to balance scholarly ambitions with professional mission. In the course of his chronicle, he depicts an institution ahead of its time in professional education but often lagging in dealing with social issues such as race and gender.

Weinberg’s account embraces faculty and staff members, students and alumni, supporters and detractors, as it covers all professional sequences taught at the school. It captures the freewheeling debate that has been a hallmark of the school and includes the perspectives of women, blacks, and gays, who all too often were marginalized. It also incorporates a wealth of insider detail, from a typical day at the school during the Williams era to tales of the “Missouri Mafia.”

Key players, significant programs, legal and ethical battles—all are covered in a candid history that makes captivating reading for those associated with the school or for anyone interested in the development of journalism education. A Journalism of Humanity is a story as big as its subject that looks back on a trailblazing century and forward toward a continuing dedication to journalistic excellence.