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Rare Opportunity, Part 1

Howard W. Hewitt – The Wabash classroom experience is often enhanced by alumni and guests. The ‘real-world’ speakers bring additional credibility and context to the message students are hearing daily from their professors.

Stephen Buckley, managing editor of the St. Petersburg Times, is on campus through Thursday afternoon sharing his journalistic experiences and tips on writing and reporting. He’ll be speaking at 8 p.m. Wednesday night in Baxter. His speech, knowingly or not, fits in well with President Patrick White’s call to join a ‘grand conversation.’

Buckley’s speech is titled, “Sex, Lies, and Video: Public Discourse in the Age of the Internet.”

 The former Washington Post reporter and foreign correspondent spoke to Tobey Herzog’s Business and Technical Writing class Wednesday morning. He offered up tips for a good newspaper feature.

His message about a formula which will work for such stories, and other stories as well, was punctuated by what I’ve found myself telling student journalists. “It’s not like this is difficult,” Buckley told Herzog’s class. “It’s the critical thinking you bring to the task.”

No, journalism isn’t brain surgery – but it’s really difficult to do it well, and that was Buckley’s morning message.

Buckley is a personal friend of Religion Professor Jon Baer. His visit is sponsored by the Religion and English Departments, Lecture Committee, Malcolm X Institute, and Multicultural Committee. 

Being in that classroom this morning reminded me what a rare opportunity our students enjoy. The College brings these people to the classroom to not only re-enforce basic principles they may hear from a professor, but to bring the rich context of experience that is invaluable.

Many of the speakers face Baxter 101 or Korb with only 20-30 or 50 people in attendance. I often sit there thinking of what a great opportunity many of our students, faculty, and staff miss. Indeed, it’s a rare chance to enrich your education, student or not, to not take advantage of people as dynamic as Stephen Buckley.