America’s First Journalism School 

US #1119 was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the school’s founding.

On September 14, 1908, the University of Missouri School of Journalism became the first such school in the US, and only the second in the world.  (The Superior School of Journalism of Paris opened in 1899.)

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was significant debate over journalism education.  Many people believed that journalism couldn’t be taught in a classroom, rather it had to be learned from an extended apprenticeship.  And journalists needed to have a certain talent for the field that they couldn’t simply learn.

US #1593 from the Americana Series.

In 1895, a bill was submitted to the Missouri State Senate seeking a chair of journalism to be established at the University of Missouri.  That bill was rejected, as was the idea of granting the school the ability to give degrees in journalism.  The Missouri Press Association backed these ideas again in 1896, but they were again denied.

Walter Williams would be a driving force for change both in Missouri, and the world of journalism.  Williams was a dedicated journalist who started his career as a writer for the Boonville Advertiser.  In 1889, at the age of 25, he was the youngest president of the Missouri Press Association.  By 1908, Williams was editor of the Columbia Missouri Herald and a university curator and pressed for a school of journalism.   With the support of Joseph Pulitzer, they finally convinced the Missouri Senate to back their idea.  Williams was selected to serve as the school’s first dean.

On September 14, 1908, the University of Missouri School of Journalism officially opened.  The first class immediately began work on their first issue of the University Missourian, which later became the Columbia Missourian.

US #1119 – Fleetwood First Day Cover.

From the start, Williams emphasized a “hands-on” approach to learning, which over time, has become known as the “Missouri Method” of journalism education.  Williams stated, “The School of Journalism does not intend to make journalists.  It can, however, train for journalism, and this is the purpose of its establishment.”  Williams wanted people from around the world to have access to the school’s style of teaching, so they taught journalists from other countries and invited the World Press Congress to the school.  He also wrote the Journalist’s Creed (which you can read here).

US #1119 – Classic First Day Cover.

In May 1910, the school staged its first annual Journalism Week and invited several famous media professionals to lecture throughout the week.  In 1930, they awarded the first Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism.  Since that time, over 500 journalists and organizations have received this award, which is considered one the most prestigious in the industry.

US #3665-68 honors women in journalism.

The school offered the world’s first master’s degree in journalism in 1921 and the first Doctor of Philosophy degree in journalism in 1934.  They also started offering radio broadcast courses in 1936 and launched the first university-owned full-power commercial TV station in the US in 1953.

US #4248-52 honors famous American journalists.

Today, students of the Missouri School of Journalism practice a hands-on approach by publishing a daily newspaper; running a television and a radio station; publishing a glossy, quarterly magazine; and providing an Internet news and information service.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. I’ve learned so much of our country’s history and fun facts to share- Freedom of the press is a foundational cornerstone of our democracy.

    1. I’ve learned…by watching ABC, CBS, NBC, CBS, and FOX…and reading the NY Times, Atlanta Journal, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal that there is such a thing as “Fake News” and it is threatening our democracy. It worries me that more can’t see it; and no I’m not necessarily a Trump fan.

      1. You can start with fake news from our supposed president. He’s
        the biggest wimp to ever come down the pike. He never has the
        backbone to admit any mistake and ALWAYS blame someone
        else. His whole family are liars, cheats and money grabbers. If
        you think I’m a “bleeding Heart” I spent 21 years in the military
        serving our country. Oh, by the way, I have bone spurs worse than
        your ignorant leader, and it didn’t keep me out. I guess when you’re
        a total wimp with daddy’s money you don’t have to serve., Just
        belittle people who did.

        1. I was in the military for 32 years and now wear foot braces on both feet for running on pavement all those years (and I don’t collect disability). Obama never spent any time in the military, but I doubt you said anything about that. Like I said, I’m not necessarily a Trump supporter and do not go along with everything he does. My main point was that yes, there is fake news and I’m getting ready to give the “good” Doctor a couple of examples.

        1. My recent claim to fake news is all the anonymous sources that are used (the recent book by Bob Woodward, the recent Op Ed from the New York Times; to name a few); and the way that those news stories are put out on the nightly news as “fact”. Sometimes, they don’t even say on the news casts that the information comes from anonymous sources. Then there is the constant barrage of negative news about Trump on CNN, MSNBC. When was the last time that you heard anyone from CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC talk about the good economy or the defeat of ISIS? Fox News leans right (no doubt about it)…the others lean mainly left. If you can’t see that, then there is no hope for you. I would like you to give me just one fake news story from Fox News.

  2. Good item, as always. Too bad journalists don’t bother to read or understand the Journalist’s Creed. Seems all they are interested in is selling advertising.

  3. We owe so much of our freedom that we enjoy in our democracy ( and other democratic nations ) to quality journalism. Politicians who continually attempt to discredit journalists who write opposing views must they themselves be scrutinized by the electorate. A well educated population who listen to opposing views, not sound bites or slogans, and then make informed choices are the key to a bright future.

    1. Kind of hard to listen to opposing views when almost everything in print and on the airway leans left (no, I’m not a hard right person). It’s not that easy anymore to get “NEWS” (not agenda driven gobbledygook). I’d like to hear how you get opposing views to make your informed choices.

  4. What is really a shame is that people use this event in history to spew their political hatred. A free press is or was intended to report the news and events of the day in an unbiased and truthful manner. Political venom has no place in an unbiased free press. These comments were always intended to be spewed by editorials and letters to the editor, or if you will, political columns. When did actual news and events of the day digress from this principle.

  5. Media expected and supported Hillary in last elections. They have to accept peoples verdict. Even after elections they only publish negative things, not mention any positive thing. When DOW hit 26000 that was not even mentioned in ABC news. New media should not lean on any side when they bring news to public. Only in totalitarian regimens new is controlled by rulers. Our nation has free press. They should use it best. Honest and truth only.

  6. I think that America as a whole is too egocentric. The news media needs to open his eyes to America and the world and what’s best for me man kind rather than what happens in the White House every day. It’s sad but will live through this too. Thanks, mostly to our press but we need to demand more from our press and less from social media.

  7. Obama did not have to join the military nor did anyone else his age. Trump had a draft number which he successfully got out of with his bone spurs.

  8. I took several journalism classes in college, although I was not a journalism major. Back then (in the “dark ages”) schools of journalism STRONGLY emphasized accurate news reporting (the facts, fully researched with due diligence – the who, what, when, where, and why; and trained students to be fully aware of their own personal biases (which everyone has), to work very hard to keep their personal biases OUT of their reporting, and to always present BOTH sides of any argument or story.

    Unfortunately, it seems obvious to me that the previously clear line between News Reporting and Opinion (the news pages vs the editorial pages) has not just become blurred, it has been obliterated. Today, you MUST know your source, i.e. you must know what the political leanings and biases are regarding the newspaper, or whatever news source you are reading or watching are. (Who owns and controls the media, and what their real agenda is. NEVER trust any news source blindly.) Unfortunately, a great deal of what passes for “news” today is really nothing but pure propaganda (BOTH on the left and on the right). Keep in mind that autocracies and dictators (think Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and a myriad of others) have always been skilled with propaganda. The old saying goes: “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time”. I’m beginning to question that old saw. I’m beginning to think you CAN fool all of the people, all of the time.

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