MU alumna and Pulitzer Prize winner Pam Johnson will become the first executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in mid-November.
“The first thing I will work on is outreach to the newspaper and broadcast industry,” Johnson said. “We need to explain the institute to the industry across the country.”
Johnson said she hopes to hold interviews in which she can hear from professionals in the news industry about their views on the future of journalism and what is needed to improve it.
The Reynolds Institute, which will be built at the northeast side of Francis Quadrangle, is meant to be a center of advanced studies in journalism and journalism’s role in a democratic society. It is being created through a $31 million donation from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the largest private donation MU has received.
Johnson’s credentials include receiving the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the Hyatt Hotel skywalk collapse for The Kansas City Star and Kansas City Times and serving as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors, as a Pulitzer juror and as a judge for the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Best Writing Awards Contest.
She will relocate from her home in St. Petersburg, Fla., to Columbia in mid-November, but Johnson is no stranger to Missouri.
“We have family in southwest Missouri,” she said. “I worked at The Kansas City Star for 13 years and built some connections then. I will acquaint myself with the environment by re-establishing those connections.”
Dean Mills, dean of the Journalism School, said in a release, “we are delighted we could persuade Pam Johnson to lead the Reynolds Institute. She’s been a leader in the industry, a leader in the journalism profession and a leader in the training of journalists.”
Johnson graduated from MU’s Journalism School in 1969. Since then, she has worked at The Kansas City Star as assistant managing editor and later took on executive and managing editorial positions at The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette. She became a member of the Leadership Faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in 2001, a year after winning the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism.
At the Reynolds Institute, she will oversee projects on improving the journalism practice and understanding, applying new technologies in journalism and advertising and setting up workshops that allow journalists, citizens and academics to come together in strengthening the quality of journalism.
Construction of the center will be completed in 2007.