Tag Archives: Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Connie Mitchell Ford ’77 Delivers Fall Commencement Address

Connie Ford delivers her commencement address to Merrill College fall, 2016 graduates.mmencement speech

Visiting Professor Constance Mitchell Ford delivers her commencement address to Merrill College graduates, their families and friends.

Updated from the original Dec. 9, 2016 post.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 231) – Visiting Professor Constance (Connie) Mitchell Ford ’77 delivered Merrill College’s commencement address today.

A native of Washington, D.C., Ford talked to Merrill’s graduates about her view that, “journalism, despite the rapid changes and constant turmoil, remains a fantastic career.”

“It’s not easy, but it’s still exciting,” she said. “I’ve traveled all over the world and discovered some fascinating things about this country and other countries; talked to people I never would have had the privilege to interview–both big wigs and small fry–had I not represented a major media organization.”

A Journalist’s Career

Before coming to Merrill, Ford was a financial journalist who spent 35 years covering economics, banking, investing and real estate. Most of those years were spent at The Wall Street Journal in New York, where she started as a bond-market reporter and advanced to become a Bureau Chief managing economics and real-estate reporting teams. She has written about the U.S. government’s addiction to debt, South Africa’s economy after apartheid, the boom town that is Beijing, the rise and fall of the subprime mortgage market and financial engineering on Wall Street, among many other things.

Ford said she ended up in business journalism because there were so many questions to answer: “I always wanted to know why some people were rich and some poor, why some countries are rich and some poor, how much money does a family need to live comfortably and why in the world do banks lend money to people when they aren’t really sure those people will pay it back.”

She received an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland in 1977 and a Master’s degree in Economics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1979.


Also see: Senior Dymond Green named student commencement speaker.

Main Commencement information.

Merrill College Commencement information.

The Left Bench Wins Five Baltimore Sun “Mobbie” Awards

Photo - Baltimore Sun/Steve Ruark

Photo – Baltimore Sun/Steve Ruark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 2) – The Merrill student-run Left Bench Sports Blog won five “Mobbie” (Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs) awards this week from the Baltimore Sun.

An article in the paper today reports the public nominated and voted for a wide range of blogs for the 8th annual celebration. The votes for the first 14 categories took place Oct. 12 through Nov. 25. The Sun says a staff panel then chose three winners of the Editor’s Choice awards.

Merrill College senior Michael Stern ’17 is one of the founders of The Left Bench and currently serves as TLB’s business director. He said, “These awards are incredible. To think The Left Bench is only three years old and has won eight awards (over two years) from The Baltimore Sun is beyond my wildest dreams, but really it’s all about the team and family this site has created. These awards are nice, but I just think they show what happens when you take 75 people with creative minds and big dreams and put them together in a family. I’m so proud to lead this incredible team.”

mobbie-logoThe Left Bench awards included:

  • Best Newcomer – TLBJV (The Left Bench TV – high school edition);
  • Best Use of Video/Moving Image: TLBTV (The Left Bench TV);
  • Best Writing;
  • Best Design and finally;
  • Best Blog


The Left Bench logo.



Dymond Green Named Fall Student Commencement Speaker

Dymond Green '16 is the fall, 2016 student commencement speaker as chosen by her peers.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 1) – Dymond Green ’16 is the selection of the fall senior class for Merrill College student speaker.

“I’m proud to have been selected as the student commencement speaker,” she said. “I hope to discuss the state of journalism post-election.”

Green has been active in a number of student groups, including NPPA, NAACP, SPJ, MABJ and UNITV Media. As a senior, she served as President of the Sisterhood of Unity and Love at the Nyumburu Cultural Center. Dymond was awarded the Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad at the University of Ghana in Spring of 2015 where she interned at a radio station. She also participated in a Photography study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico.

As an intern, Dymond also gained experience at WBAL-TV in Baltimore and was part of the communications department at Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. The Baltimore native plans to pursue a career as a broadcast journalist.

Green said, “I like to thank my family, friends,  professors at Merrill College and the Academic Achievement Program for their support and the opportunity to pursue a higher education.”

Dymond currently works for the university’s Department of Transportation Services where she began as a student bus operator and worked her way up to the Safety and Policy Manager.

Merrill College’s fall commencement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Dec. 21 in the Kay Theater of The Clarice. It will be streamed live on the Merrill College YouTube channel.

ViewFinder Takes on the Heroin Crisis

ViewFinder’s Mya Green, Susann Shin and Ryan Eskalis at the Poynter workshop.

ViewFinder’s Mya Green, Susann Shin and Ryan Eskalis at the Poynter workshop. Photo: Bethany Swain.

By Mya Green ’17

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 29) – The Fall 2016 ViewFinder team is tackling the untold stories of the heroin crisis in Anne Arundel County. The students attended workshops, forums, and created connections with county officials to gain insight and context for their stories.

In September, team members attended the Poynter “Covering the Opioid Crisis” Workshop at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event featured Baltimore’s Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Debra Houry from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harriet Ryan from the LA Times, CEO of Fair Health Robin Gelburd and Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli.

The speakers shared information about the heroin crisis from their area of expertise. Dr. Wen shared some startling facts about how heroin is affecting people and the health climate in Baltimore. She stated that more people are dying of overdoses than homicides. She said she makes it a point to speak at events like this because she wants to educate people about the various forms of treatment that are available now. She gave a demonstration on how to administer the emergency drug Naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.

Then, journalists from all over the country were given the opportunity to share the projects they’ve been working on as it related to opioids and addiction. They emphasized the importance of the event and how they appreciated the guidance it provided when covering such a sensitive topic.

In addition to the Poynter workshop, ViewFinder’s Alexandra Simon attended the Tri-County Opioid Summit in Anne Arundel County. County executives from Howard, Harford and Anne Arundel Counties outlined their plans to address the growing opioid crisis. Also, sports commentator Keith Mills talked about his struggle with beating his addiction to pain pills.

ViewFinder’s fall team is once again partnering with the University of Maryland PALS program (Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability) so this event gave the team some important information on how the county is handling the issues its’ currently facing.

Attending these events not only helped the ViewFinder students in Bethany Swain’s Advanced Video Storytelling capstone class produce stories, but also allowed them to be at the forefront of covering a nationally relevant topic.

The fall ViewFinder team looks forward to seeing you at their screening on December 8th, 2016 at 7:30 pm in Tawes 0302.


Merrill College History: The First Journalism Building

First journalism building at UMD. From the 1956 Alumni News.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Nov. 23) – The weather may not have cooperated, but that didn’t stop some 200 guests – including news, public relations and political officials – from helping to dedicate the University of Maryland’s first modern building for the Department of Journalism and Public Relations on Nov. 23, 1957. The journey to that dedication ceremony was a long one.

A Dream Years in the Making

There had been a long-standing dream for a new building since the Department of Journalism and Public Relations was established in 1947 on the University of Maryland campus. By 1952, the Alumni News’ editor Robert Hurst reported that the university administration had finally put plans for a new building “in motion” that would include an auditorium, classrooms and offices, as well as extensive facilities for training in press photography. Even the University Press and “the activities of the Director of Publicity and Publications will also be housed in the new building.”

A committee of the Maryland Press Association recommended the construction of a new building the following year that would include a newspaper hall of fame (the MDDC (Maryland-DC-Delaware) Press Association sponsors one today for its members).

By 1955, the plans (by architects Walton and Madden) were complete and despite some controversy about where the building would be located, construction finally got underway.

1955 Alumni News editor Bill Kennedy said Department Chair Alfred Crowell had spent much of his year working with the architects and interviewing “dealers of equipment and compiling specifications for purchase of equipment for each room in the three-story building.”

The 1956 Alumni News reported that the building should be completed by February or March of 1957. Along with the $350,000 building, the state allocated an additional $40,000 for equipment, but more was needed since “earlier requests did not cover plumbing or sinks for the photography labs, nor parking facilities.”

Alumni News for 1954

Alumni News for 1955

Photos as guests toured the new journalism building on the campus of the University of Maryland on Nov. 23, 1957. Photos by Al Danegger

Guests tour the new journalism building on the Maryland campus. Photos by Al Danegger.

An Informal Inspection

The original journalism building nearing compleation on McKeldin Mall at the University of Maryland. Photo: Al Danneger.

The journalism building nears completion. Photo: Al Danegger.

The New York Times sent their Philadelphia Correspondent William Weart to College Park to cover the dedication. He reported, “Built and partly equipped at a cost of $390,000, the three story structure stands on the southwest corner of the mall, adjacent to the $3,200,000 (what would become McKeldin) library nearing completion. Both buildings are of Georgian architectural design.”

Before the dedication ceremonies and luncheon, there was what Weart called an “informal inspection” of the facility.

What the guests saw was described a few months earlier in the May, 1957 Alumni News (the building was able to open for classes for the spring term):

“There was a time when the journalism department was housed in the worst building on campus, but today it is a center of attraction at Maryland… The first floor is the new home of the Diamondback and the future press room. The DBK has a large newsroom, the editor’s office looks out over the mall, and there are individual offices for sports, the business manager, and advertising-circulation. The DBK domain takes up half of the first floor. The rest is given over to the lobby, printer’s office, and press room.”


Touring the photo lab by Al Danegger.

The Alumni News reported there was a photography laboratory with a printing room containing 14 enlargers, a finishing room and much more. There was space for two separate darkrooms – one for the Diamondback and one for the Terrapin Yearbook and Old Line publication – but there wasn’t enough money to equip them at that point.

In July of that year, the Alumni News reported that the department had enrolled 85 majors in the “upper division” compared to 64 in the previous spring. 38 journalism and PR majors graduated, an increase of 10 over 1956. By July, 1958, the Alumni News reported that while some labs had still not been equipped, the facilities were “top-notch” and that students were seeing the use of more visual aids like 16 mm movies, slides, tapes, records.”

The report concluded by saying, “After what we’ve come from, no writing can do this new building justice. You’ll have to see it at the dedication ceremonies next fall, to see how student publications and the Department of Journalism and Public Relations have grown to be the pride of the campus.”

Alumni News of May, 1957

Alumni News of July, 1957

Alumni News of July, 1958

The dedication ceremony for the new journalism building on the Maryland campus and a shot of some of the dignitaries including Journalism Department Chair Alfred Crowell (back left).

Al Danegger’s photos of the dedication ceremony with University President Wilson Elkins at the podium and a photo of some of the dignitaries including Journalism Chair Alfred Crowell (back left).

Dedication Ceremonies: “Fourth Estate in a New Home”

buildingdedication_yearbookThe 1957 Terrapin Yearbook wrote:

“The $350,000 Journalism Building became officially dedicated to democracy’s principle of freedom of the press November 23. Before a gathering of 200 guests in the Rotary Room of the dining hall, President (Wilson) Elkins welcomed the speakers for the occasion. President of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, William Dwight, was the main speaker at the ceremony along with Governor McKeldin; J. Freeman Pyle, dean of BPA; Louis L. Goldstein, president of the Maryland State Senate; and Daniel Brewster, vice-chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates.”

The New York Times’ Weart reported that Dwight’s keynote focused on “official secrecy” by the federal government. “The right of Americans to know what their officials were doing,” Dwight said, “was being repeatedly invaded at all levels of government.”

The ceremony was recorded and thanks to University Archives, we can bring it to you here:


On to Knight Hall

By the turn of the century, it was becoming painfully clear that the original journalism building was too small and outmoded to serve a growing student population and a changing journalism industry. On April 21, 2010, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in John S. & James L. Knight Hall was dedicated to take journalism at Maryland into the future. The original journalism building on McKeldin Mall was renovated and is currently being used by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. The original “JOURNALISM” lettering from the old building was moved to Knight Hall to help serve as a bridge from the old to the new.

Watch: Announcement of the building of the new Knight Hall in 2006 with Dean Tom Kunkel, UMD President Dan Mote and Philip and Eleanor (Ellie) Merrill: