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Alumna Kennedy Dendy Update January 10, 2022

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JPR&NM graduate (‘19) Kennedy Dendy has wrapped up two years at KEZI in Eugene, Oregon. She has accepted a reporter position with Action News Jax in Jacksonville, Florida.

Dendy received two Emmy nominations alongside her KEZI team.

“When the wildfires erupted in Oregon, I had no idea what to expect. I was fresh out of school, in my first market and still learning the ropes.”
“However, I recognized how important of a time it was and is to be a journalist. I think about the families impacted daily and keep in touch with several to this day!”

Before KEZI 9 News, she interned at CBS This Morning in New York City. Working with the features team, Kennedy produced a variety of daily content.

Kennedy graduated from Baylor University with a degree in journalism. While at Baylor, she worked as a reporter, anchor and executive producer for Lariat TV News, where she covered many stories, including the controversial Shawn Oakman trial and acquittal.

Kennedy was born and raised in Texas and is looking forward to telling western Oregon’s stories. When she’s not covering the news, Kennedy loves to watch movies, play tennis and find new restaurants to try.

She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

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Alumna Moves to Healthcare Position January 10, 2022

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Danielle Marchell (’13) is excited to join the Austin-based digital health company Everly Health as its Senior Corporate Communications Manager.

In this role, she leads all corporate communications for Everly Health and its B2B division, Everly Health Solutions. It is a leader in at-home health & wellness testing and diagnostic care.

A native of San Jose, Calif., Marchell specialized in public relations at Baylor University. She was the public relations chair for Alpha Chi Omega. She served as an intern at Baylor Athletic Communications, and also held internships as a web intern KGO-TV ABC 7 and a PR intern at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.





Alumna Wins Prestigious Award January 3, 2022

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Alumna Nina Thornton was recently promoted to Senior Marketing Manager at Zymo Research Corp. (a biotech company in Irvine, California) and awarded the company’s 2021 Young Leadership Award.

She graduated from Baylor in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Film and Digital Media. She interned for a luxury lifestyle magazine the summer before her senior year and after graduation, interned with a digital marketing firm in California. After some very valuable lessons there, she went on to work as a consultant for nutraceutical companies at a health-focused marketing agency.

After about a year and a half, she decided to go into biotech in hopes of finding a company that had a significant impact on peoples’ lives. She took a Digital Marketing Specialist position at Zymo Research, and has been there ever since.

“I am deeply grateful for my time in the JPR&NM department at Baylor and owe much of my success to the foundation that was built there,” she said. “I cannot express how influential Dr. Maxey Parrish, Carol Perry, and Kevin Tankersley were and how relevant their courses were to my roles after graduation.”

Leading marketing for a biotech company during the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most unpredictable and chaotic experiences of her career but she was prepared for it because of her time at Baylor.

She  currently oversees all marketing campaigns, strategies, media buying, content creation and public relations. Zymo has hundreds of products from DNA/RNA extraction kits, epigentics and microbiomics to sample collection devices. Our products currently support hundreds of COVID-19 testing workflows all over the world.








Baylor Alumna Earns Master’s Degree January 3, 2022

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Baylor JPR&NM alumna Madelyn Gee reached a major milestone in December—she graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas in Austin.

While attending UT, she worked with numerous publications, including Austin Monthly, Black Texas Magazine and more.

She wrote 150+ pieces as a Digital Intern for BlackNewsAlerts.com by “UrbanNewsroom” and is the Lifestyle Writer of Sage Magazine.

She now serves as a staff writer for the Black culture publication Blavity, Inc., as well as freelances for entertainment publications including Mediaversity Reviews and Black Girl Nerds.

She graduated from Baylor University with bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in Film/Digital Media. At Baylor, she worked as a staff writer and wrote numerous articles for the “Baylor Lariat” and the “Bundle Magazine.”

She also served as the Vice President of the Baylor chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

She hopes to achieve her dream of creating her own TV shows and movies in the future.

Alumna Welcomes New Baylor Cub to Family January 3, 2022

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Savanah Landerholm, an alumna with a master’s degree in international journalism, and her husband Scott, are excited to welcome a new addition to the family.

Noelle Aspen was born November 19, 2021, at home. She is their third daughter.

Landerholm is working remotely full time for Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Kennedy Dendy Accepts New Position January 3, 2022

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Baylor JPR&NM alumna Kennedy Dendy (‘19) has accepted a position with Action News Jax in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I’m so thankful to everyone who has supported me these past two years and beyond — and for my KEZI team who has allowed me to grow beyond what I could’ve expected,” she said in a Facebook post.

Kennedy Dendy joined the KEZI 9 News team as a news reporter in January 2020. Starting in April 2021, also anchored on weekend mornings.

Before KEZI 9 News, she interned at CBS This Morning in New York City. Working with the features team, Kennedy produced a variety of daily content.

Kennedy graduated from Baylor University with a degree in journalism. While at Baylor, she worked as a reporter, anchor and executive producer for Lariat TV News, where she covered many stories, including the controversial Shawn Oakman trial and acquittal.

Kennedy was born and raised in Texas and is looking forward to telling western Oregon’s stories. When she’s not covering the news, Kennedy loves to watch movies, play tennis and find new restaurants to try.


Greetings from Department Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez January 1, 2022

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Greetings and welcome to the Fall 2021 Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media newsletter. We are excited to debut “Castellaw Connect,” the new format of our alumni newsletter. In this inaugural issue, we spotlight the accomplishments of faculty, alumni and students. We also share reaccreditation, facilitates and fundraising updates. We’ve been busy, and we have lots of exciting news to share!

Click this link to view Castellaw Connect

In the fall, Baylor JPR&NM completed a site visit for reaccreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). The reaccreditation process began with a rigorous self-examination by faculty and staff of nine standards that include curriculum, outcomes assessment, diversity, facilities, oversight and several other areas.

Following the self study, a team of educators and professionals visited our department in October. The team talked to us, our current students, alumni, administrators, and our colleagues in other departments to further assess our program. I am excited to report that we have been recommended for reaccreditation.

This is an outstanding accomplishment for our department, since there are only 117 schools accredited by ACEJMC in the country; 114 are fully accredited, and three three are on provisional status. We are fortunate to have dedicated faculty, supportive administrators, outstanding staff, great students, a low teacher-student ratio, excellent retention and job/graduate school placement rates, and generous scholarship funds.

Updating our facilities continues to be a challenge. We have been able to make some changes to give Castellaw a more modern look. Since 2018, we have converted three classrooms into collaborative learning environments. Our classrooms feature new seating, moveable tables, additional monitors, and whiteboards that are more conducive to collaborative work and discussion. We added sofas, rugs and tables to two outer hallways on the second floor to make them common spaces where students can relax and/or study.

We also highlighted the work of students, alumni and faculty. A faculty scholarship wall features books written by faculty members, and numerous exhibits spotlight the photography of faculty members, alumni and students. We also have been updating our bulletin boards frequently to better highlight upcoming events, scholarships and trends in diversity. 

On the horizon, we’re updating our breakroom/mailroom, automating second-floor toilets, updating the carpet in our largest classroom and adding cabinets to our photo equipment check-out room. We’ll continue to make improvements and renovations as our budget allows.

Baylor Homecoming 

This year’s homecoming was extra special. During the event, we:

Advisory Board

Advisory Board members help the department by hiring alumni, speaking to classes, reviewing student projects and portfolios, fundraising, and offering feedback on our department’s curriculum.

We are excited to welcome four new advisory board members.

Alumni Updates

In this issue, we have numerous updates to share, which is one of the reasons we decided to expand our newsletter.

Faculty Accolades 

During the summer of 2019, Dr. Clark Baker taught photography to 20 migrants and refugees through Centro Interculturale di Aiuto ed Orientamento (CIAO) in Syracuse, Sicily, and plans to continue this work in 2022. His work is highlighted in the exhibit, Migrant Journeys. CIAO offers services to help participants adapt and integrate into Italian society.

Baylor University celebrated the opening of the Baylor Black Gospel Archive and Listening Center, which celebrates the hard work of JPR&NM faculty member, Professor Bob Darden. Located on the garden level of Baylor’s Moody Memorial Library, the archive and listening center marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, which was launched in 2006 and is the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, digitize, catalog and make available America’s fast-vanishing legacy of vinyl from the “golden age” of gospel music.

Dr. Cassy Burleson received the inaugural Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication Award. She was selected for her innovative teaching practices and exceptional commitment to her students’ education and post-graduation placement.

The Baylor Line’s Editor Jon Platt interviewed Professor Curtis Callaway in his Direct Line Conversation series in this podcast titled, “Curtis Callaway has the World by the Frame: The Man, the Myth, the Legend.” It highlights his mother’s love of art and how it led to his career in photography. He talks about close connections with students and even serving as the best man for an alumnus.The end offers a glimpse at Kaye Callaway’s near-death experience after she fell while on a photo shoot with him.

Research Update 

President Linda Livingstone announced that Baylor University has achieved Research 1 status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, joining the nation’s top research institutions as a doctoral university with high research activity and as a preeminent Christian research university. This achievement came two years earlier than expected.

Our department helped contribute to that achievement with numerous books, book chapters, almost $40,000 in external grants and 41 journal articles since our prior accreditation site visit. Our faculty presented research this fall virtually for the European Public Relations Education and Research Association, and served as panelists for the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference. Our department also was well represented at AEJMC 2021. Dr. Marlene Neill served as a panelist for two sessions and presented two coauthored papers. Dr. Alec Tefertiller served as a panelist for two sessions and presented three research papers. Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez served as keynote speaker for a session, served on four panels and co-presented a paper. She is serving as guest co-editor of the Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly special issue on the Black Lives Matter Movement. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (JMCQ) is AEJMC’s flagship journal.


JPR&NM Fundraising & Development

Thanks to generous donations of friends of JPR&NM and the hard work of our department’s development officer Kristyn Miller, the increased level of alumni engagement has resulted in a growth in donations. In 2019, a little more than $50,000 was raised, made up of 98 gifts from 83 donors. In 2020, that number nearly doubled to a little under $100,000, and funds were from 119 gifts and 102 donors. And in 2021, the department raised more than half a million dollars–$587,534.98 to be exact.

Earlier this year, JPR&NM was blessed to fund the Moody-Ramirez Belden Endowed Scholarship for Diversity. This scholarship is a collaborative effort between Tom Belden and Janice Miller, Ella Prichard and myself that we began discussing with Professor Bob Darden in the fall of 2020.

We wanted to create a scholarship for journalism students similar to Baylor’s Trailblazer Scholars Program, which was designed to recognize the  importance  of  fostering  diversity  and  mutual  respect  at Baylor University.

The scholarship will be awarded to a student who is a member of NABJ. Other major gifts include a $50,000 scholarship endowed by a retired Air Force Colonel whose career as a public information officer for the military was shaped by her time as a journalism student. She said Dr. Sara Stone was so influential in her life that she dedicated the scholarship in her honor.

Financial aid is a critical part of most students’ education. Currently, about 70 percent of Baylor students are on financial assistance or scholarship aid. Our department offers nearly $200,000 in annual scholarship funds to students. An additional $40,000 is set aside for incoming freshman and transferring journalism majors. The amount offered in scholarships is more than any other department in the College of Arts & Sciences. Current journalism majors must submit applications with all required material by March 18.

Incoming freshman and transfer students have until March 6. For more information, contact me or click this link: https://www.baylor.edu/journalism/index.php?id=859640.

In Memoriam

Sadly, we highlight here the lives of the following distinguished alumni/faculty who have passed away since September:

JPR&NM Graduates 

Congratulations to this semester’s graduates. Baylor Journalism, Public Relations & New Media had 15 students earn their diplomas! All, except five, have jobs or are planning to go to graduate school!

I am excited to report I was given the thumbs up from faculty members to serve three more years as chair of JPR&NM. I look forward to taking the department to greater heights. In this episode of the KWBU Central Texas Leadership series, Nan Holmes and I discuss leadership:tinyurl.com/y2cgzkz4..

Thank you for your continued support.

I wish you all good health, success and many blessings in 2022!


—Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D.


Department Honors Carol Perry With Mosaic Bear Mural December 29, 2021

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By Elizabeth Bates, Ph.D.

After years of sharing her professional experience in public relations with students, Clark Baker asked Carol Perry to develop and teach a media design class. Perry describes the opportunity as her dream job because she could incorporate her training as an artist in the classroom while watching students succeed.

Many students struggled with the complex design software at the start of the semester. But, with Perry’s guidance, they created professional work for clients at the end of the semester. In fact, most of her students continue to use their design skills in their careers.

That is true for Caryle Thornton. Thornton uses the graphic design skills she gained in Perry’s class in Baylor’s Marketing and Communications. Thornton also started teaching Media Design for the department after Perry retired. So, it was fitting to ask Thornton to design the bear meant to recognize Perry’s years of dedication to her students and the department.

Perry is delighted to be remembered in a way she loves, and she could not be prouder that Thornton designed the bear.


The Moody-Ramirez Belden Endowed Scholarship for Diversity in Journalism December 28, 2021

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The Moody-Ramirez Belden Endowed Scholarship for Diversity in Journalism was established in 2021 by Dr. Mia N. Moody-Ramirez and Tom Belden.

This scholarship is a collaborative effort between Tom Belden and Janice Miller, Ella Prichard and Mia Moody-Ramirez that they began discussing with Bob Darden in the fall of 2020. They wanted to create a scholarship for journalism students similar to Baylor’s Trailblazer Scholars Program, a scholarship  designed to  recognize  the  importance  of  fostering  diversity  and  mutual  respect  at Baylor University.

Moody-Ramirez was able to provide funds for the scholarship after being awarded the Cornelia Marschall Smith  Professor of the Year Award, which  recognizes a Baylor faculty member who makes  a  superlative  contribution  to  the  learning  environment  at  Baylor  through  teaching, research and service. The award comes with a $20,000 prize.

They are excited to be able to award the scholarship to students who are members of the Baylor  National  Association  of  Black  Journalists  (NABJ),  which  was  reinstated  in  2003  with Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., serving as the adviser.

Founded by 44 men and women on Dec. 12, 1975, in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists  of  color  in  the  world.  Many  of  NABJ’s  3,300  members  also  belong  to  one  of  the professional and student chapters that serve Black journalists.

Mia  Moody-Ramirez,  Ph.D.,  is  a  Professor  and  Chair  of  the  Baylor  University  Department  of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media. She joined Baylor in 2001 and has maintained an active research portfolio in addition to her teaching and leadership roles. Her research emphasizes media framing of people of color, women and political candidates, the pros and cons of social media in political campaigns and how historical stereotypes are found in social media platforms.

The author or co-author of four books, Dr. Moody-Ramirez has also been widely published in a variety  of  academic  and  industry  journals.  She  was  honored  with  the  Outstanding  Woman  in Journalism award by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and received the organization’s Lionel Barrow Jr. Award for Distinguished Achievement in Diversity Research and Education. She is also a 2019 Fellow in the AEJMC Institute for Diverse Leadership.

Mia’s husband Augustine is a material’s handler at Packless Industries and disc jockey. She is the proud mother of Heidi, Timothy, and William.

Tom Belden worked as a professional journalist for more than 40 years and now devotes much of his time to supporting other journalists working for nonprofit and underfunded commercial news” “organizations. Tom graduated from Baylor in 1970 with a B.A. majoring in journalism and history. He received an M.S. in 1971 from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He worked  as  a  reporter  and  editor  for  four  years  for  United  Press  International  in  six  bureaus, including managing space flight coverage from Cape Canaveral, Fla., for a year. He worked for Belden Associates in Dallas for two years doing market research for newspapers. He returned to reporting  for  the  Dallas  Morning  News  from  1977  to  1979  before  moving  to  The  Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the next 31 years, he wrote more than 4,000 articles for The Inquirer about a range of topics, devoting the majority to covering airlines, airports, aircraft, railroads, hospitality and tourism. From 1988 to 2010 he wrote a business travel column for The Inquirer and the Knight-Ridder/Tribune  News  Service.  He  shared  regional  and  national  awards  for  his  reporting  on Philadelphia airline service.

Tom’s wife, Janice A. Miller, is a retired college financial aid administrator who worked for more than three decades at Southern Methodist University, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and Trinity University in San Antonio.

This  endowed  scholarship  fund  provides  assistance  to  deserving  students  attending  Baylor University,  Waco,  Texas,  with  preference  given  to  students  who  are  pursuing  a  degree  in  the Department  of  Journalism,  Public  Relations  and  New  Media,  and  who  are  members  of  the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).


Alumna Chantal Canales Begins Position at Penguin Random House December 22, 2021

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Baylor JPR&NM alumna Chantal Canales is excited to begin a full-time position as a Marketing Assistant at Penguin Random House.

Canales graduated from Baylor in May 2021 with a degree in journalism and new media and a minor in Business Administration.

After attending the Summer Publishing Institute and starting a master’s degree in publishing at New York University, she began a marketing internship with Simon and Schuster.

“I am so thankful to the Baylor Journalism Department for providing me with the skills and knowledge necessary to begin my career in the world of publishing!”

Baylor JPR&NM Alumna and MCC Foundation Executive Director Kim Patterson Named “Outstanding Fundraising Professional” December 2, 2021

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Baylor JPR&NM alumna and MCC Foundation Executive Director Kim Patterson has been named “Outstanding Fundraising Professional” by the Central Texas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Patterson is a graduate of Baylor University with degrees in journalism and marketing. She serves on the Baylor Department of Journalism Friends of the Department Council

Since becoming executive director, the foundation has raised an average of $1.3 million in private donor support each year, in addition to numerous grant awards. Patterson has successfully navigated complex capital and real property gifts, estate gifts, major gifts for scholarships and capital projects, and she has established major endowments to support student success.

In 2018, the MCC Foundation was named a “Charity Champion” in recognition of its efforts to support the Men of Color Success Initiative at MCC. Since then, the foundation earned a Cooper Foundation grant to support the program and partially fund its first paid coordinator, and has created an endowed scholarship for the program’s outstanding participant.

In 2017, she earned a master’s degree in management and leadership from Tarleton State University. She and her husband Frank have two grown children and enjoy camping, fishing, and hiking.


Alumnus Preston Lewis Earns Medals for Western Humor December 2, 2021

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By David McHam

Two historical novels by Preston Lewis, a 1972 Baylor journalism graduate, earned medals for western humor at the annual Will Rogers Medallion Awards (WRMA) presentation in October in Fort Worth.

First Herd to Abilene, a novel on a Texas trail drive to the railhead in Kansas in the aftermath of the Civil War, received the WRMA Gold Medallion for western humor.  North to Alaska, a novel on the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush, earned a Silver Medallion.  The two books are the fifth and sixth in Lewis’s comic western series The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax.  Both were published by Wolfpack Publishing.  The fourth volume in the series, Bluster’s Last Stand on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also received a WRMA Gold Medallion for western humor in 2019.

The award-winning books are among 44 historical, western and juvenile novels Lewis has published under his own name and various pseudonyms since graduating from Baylor.  Last year two of his short stories—“A Grave Too Many” and “The Hope Chest”—also received WRMA Gold Medallions in the short fiction category.  The short stories were published in separate anthologies by Five Star Publishing.  Lewis’s other writing honors include two Spur Awards, the premier prize in literature of the West, from Western Writers of America (WWA) for nonfiction article and for western novel.

Lewis is a past president of both WWA and the West Texas Historical Association, which has presented him three Elmer Kelton Awards for best creative work on West Texas for two of his juvenile novels and another comic western, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin.

Earlier this year, he was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters, which was established during the state’s 1936 Centennial to celebrate Texas literature and to recognize distinctive literary achievement.  Lewis is one of 14 new members inducted in the class of 2021.

Lewis is past president of Western Writers of America and the West Texas Historical Association, which has presented him three Elmer Kelton Awards for best creative works on West Texas.  In addition to his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor, he earned a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in history from Angelo State University.

He and his wife Harriet, also a 1972 Baylor grad, reside in San Angelo, Texas, where he retired after spending 35 years in higher education communications and marketing at Texas Tech University and Angelo State University.

Baylor’s Black Gospel Archive and Listening Center now open to the public December 1, 2021

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Reprinted with permission

Black Gospel music is a foundational ingredient in every popular music genre in America, and with the opening last week of Baylor University’s Black Gospel Archive and Listening Center, music that has long been accessible only to music scholars and historians is now available to the public.

Located on the garden level of Baylor’s Moody Memorial Library, the archive and listening center marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, which was launched in 2006 and is the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, digitize, catalog and make available America’s fast-vanishing legacy of vinyl from the “golden age” of gospel music.

The new archive and listening center features storage space for thousands of physical items, including LPs, 45rpm discs and cassettes, as well as researcher computer stations and a custom work desk. The centerpiece of the space is a Framery brand sound isolation pod with high-end audio equipment and a full keyboard for researchers who want to play along with sheet music or recordings from the collection. The space is reservable for researchers, students and the general public.

Robert Darden


The archive and listening center opened on Nov. 12 with a day of events that included performances by Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir and a lecture, “Why Gospel Music Matters,” presented by the project’s founder, journalism professor Robert Darden, and Robert Marovich, founder and editor of the Journal of Gospel Music and a major collector whose materials have been loaned to Baylor for digitization and inclusion in its online database.

Speaking after the event, Darden said the “golden age” of gospel music runs roughly from 1945 into the 1980s.

“Not that equally incredible music hasn’t been released since, but this was when it was such a focus of the churches and such a focus of Black life and entertainment. When African Americans only had a half dozen newspapers in the country, owned no radio stations, no TV stations, very few were published (authors) in any form, music was the one avenue of expression,” he said.

“It’s the golden age because it influenced so much of American popular music. It was so vibrant and so vital. You’d be hard pressed to find any white or Black artist in the U.S. or U.K. who didn’t borrow something from it. And it corresponds with the golden age of the blues and soul music as well and the incredible explosion of African-American creativity.”

Darden traces his own interest in Black gospel music to his growing up as the son of a career Air Force officer. Unlike the other military services at the time, the Air Force was integrated when it was founded, he said, which meant his friends and playmates in the base housing were both Black and white.

“Those were my neighbors. I was going in and out of their houses like they were in and out of mine,” he said. “I’ll always remember their parents singing or they had these songs on their little rinky-dink hi-fi players, and somewhere down the road that was such a happy, joyful thing and it became the soundtrack of my life.”

Darden also noted the role his parents played in his leanings toward Black gospel music.

“When my dad got promoted to captain in 1960 — I would’ve been 6 years old — he got a raise and he went and bought our first hi-fi player, and he had enough money for three LPs: a Perry Como LP, a movie themes LP, and Mahalia Jackson’s Christmas album. And according to my parents, I played Mahalia over and over.”

After earning degrees focusing on journalism, arts and education from Baylor and the University of North Texas, Darden started his professional career as arts and entertainment editor for the Waco Tribune-Herald and later was gospel music editor for Billboard magazine. He has been teaching at Baylor in some capacity since 1988 and in 2006 joined the full-time faculty of the Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media.

Darden has authored more than two dozen books, many on the theme of Black gospel music and its role in American history and the Civil Rights Movement. In 2005, as he was completing People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music, his frustration in the scarcity of resources boiled over into action.

“A lot of the music I was writing about I couldn’t listen to, couldn’t hear, couldn’t find in every way I knew to look. So I polled some collectors I’d met when I was at Billboard, and they said, ‘Oh yeah, about 70% of this music is unavailable. It’s in landfills, it’s in private collections, it’s tied up in litigation, it’s owned by big corporations who don’t think there’s any money in it.’”

Darden said that realization angered him and he wrote an opinion piece and sent it to the editors of the New York Times. In it he said, “It would be more than a cultural disaster to forever lose this music. It would be a sin.”

Against all odds, the Times published his piece. And if that wasn’t shock enough, the next day Charles Royce, a Connecticut businessman, called, and as Darden recalls, “He said, ‘You figure out how to save it and I’ll pay for it,’ and so immediately I went to Baylor Libraries and I’ve been working with them ever since.”

Royce’s generosity in 2006 paid for a digitization studio and the first scanners and the first couple of employees. Baylor Libraries provided workspace as well as more people power. Once the word got out, the records started coming in — not just music but recordings of sermons as well.

Robert Marovich

The largest donor of music to the project has been Marovich, who Darden said has been sending 45s at a rate of 50 a month for 10 years. That has been joined by donations from far and wide — from other large collectors but also from individuals who have sent just a few pieces of what he describes as “old battered pieces of vinyl that were probably going to the landfill otherwise.”

“We think more than 60% of our holdings are the lone copy,” he said. “We have no way of proving that because there’s never been a discography of gospel music, unlike every other genre. But we’re pretty sure a good chunk of what we have are one-off or the only surviving copy.”

When a record arrives at Baylor, it is cataloged, cleaned, scanned and digitized. It then is stored for future research and listening or sent back to the owner if it is a loan.

“Most of what we have sounds better now than it’s ever sounded because we do clean them,” Darden said. “And for the ones that we put on streaming, we take out the pops and hisses. We don’t do that on the archival version. We just want to hear it,” he said.

Darden said the technology is such that even if a disc is worn and the sound is bad, a microscope can be used to find the best side of the groove to record from.

Gospel musicians, a woman playing the tambourine and a man seated and singing into a microphone, on Newberry Street or Peoria Street, near 14th Street, Chicago, circa 1971.

“Most people’s needles on their old-fashion record players bias one way or the other, so the V-shaped groove would be worn down on one side but on the other side there’s still a pretty good signal. So they can tweak their needles to hit the side that has the best signal,” he explained.

As well, they can digitize discs that are warped, oversized and even recorded at the wrong speed.

“Some gospel music in particular was pretty cheaply pressed and recorded at wrong speeds, which changes the sound and the pitch a little bit,” he explained. “We’ll of course make an archival copy of that, but then we can also find the right speed that was meant so it goes in the right key like it was supposed to.”

Darden said that as the collection has grown, evidence of what historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. calls a “double voicedness” has become prominent, particularly in the 45s of the early 1960s where the record carried two messages. The practice is not unlike the original protest spirituals from before the Civil War.

“We knew about some, but we didn’t know the sheer volume of it,” he said. “When you think about somebody walking around Birmingham in 1963 with a Dorothy Love Coates 45 they had just bought at the neighborhood furniture store, the A side is the hit side, and on the B side right under the noses of those racist sheriffs and everybody else is a song that says, ‘Ain’t no segregation in heaven,’ or ‘I believe Martin Luther King was right,’ or a song that name-checks all the other civil rights sites of that moment, which the Birmingham paper wasn’t covering, they weren’t getting it in the New York Times.”

Darden said it is just coincidence that the archive and listening center has opened at a time when conversations about racial justice and equality are at a fever pitch.

“I’d like to say I was that smart, but it does seem auspicious, doesn’t it?” he said. He recalled watching funerals of members of the Black Lives Matter movement, “and time and again I was astonished to see people 20 and younger singing these songs, songs that even their parents would have been a little young for the classic Civil Rights Movement. It would have been their grandparents.”

Darden said there are more books and documentaries on Black gospel music coming out now than in the 30 years he’s been writing about it. Many of those books have been researched at Baylor.

“When I first started back in 1999 on People Get Ready, I had maybe seven or eight other books to draw on, and that was the reason I wrote it: there was no history of gospel music. And now we’ve got three or four coming out in the next month or two.”

Darden said the archive and listening center was made possible in large part by Baylor alumna Ella Prichard and the Prichard Family Foundation, who like Charles Royce and others have stepped up and contributed when it was needed.

“Somebody has always been there,” he said. “That’s why I know it’s God’s hands on this, because I’m not nearly that smart to have figured it out. But God puts these people in a place where they get why it matters and they want to be a part of it.”

Darden said the new center — with its graphic displays and state-of-the art listening booth — is not the culmination of the Black Gospel Music Project’s work but the next step in an ongoing journey.

“You worry about leaving a legacy anywhere,” he said. “My worry has always been that even though presidents change, deans change and old fat white guys die, that this would become such an integral part of Baylor that even if they lost interest in it for some ungodly reason, that it would be self-sustaining and that it would continue to do what it was designed to do, which is preserve and make accessible these voices that have not been heard.”

Darden recalled that during the opening events, Jeffry Archer, dean of Baylor’s libraries, told him there is room to grow if needed, and in Darden’s estimation the center will continue to grow as more music is found. Every few days he gets word from the center that a new box of vinyl records has arrived, and “it’s sort of like Christmas” when he walks from his office to the center to check it out.

“I don’t mind not knowing every artist, because there’s a lot of one-offs, but what scares me is when I start getting several LPs by the same label — like Greenwood, we got one the other day — and I’d never heard of it, and that means there’s this whole other line of Greenwood LPs out there that nobody knew about. There’s the happiness, and then there always ends up being a little urgency to get those before they end up in a landfill somewhere. Every voice matters on this.”

Darden said the opening of the center is not just an opportunity to invite more scholars and gospel aficionados to come and “play with the toys,” as he likes to say, but it’s another chance to invite the public to join the preservation effort by donating or loaning their old recordings rather than throwing them away.

“If you do have vinyl that fits our criteria, whether it’s sermons or singing, we’ll pay for the shipping,” he said. “And we’ll return the original if you like. Just let us harvest that music before it’s gone.”

Jeff Hampton is a Baylor University journalism graduate who is a freelance writer living in Dallas.

The Life and Legacy of War Correspondence Sharon Kay Herbaugh (’77) December 1, 2021

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By Bob Darden

The departure of coalition forces from Afghanistan on Aug. 30 led us to both ponder and again celebrate the life and legacy of one of the Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media’s most memorable and honored graduates, Sharon Kay Herbaugh (’77).

On April 16, 1993, Sharon was among the 15 people who died in a helicopter crash near Kabul.

At Baylor, Sharon was a member of Chi’s, the women’s service organization, and Editor of The Round Up her senior year.

“Sharon was a dear friend both on the Round Up Staff and in Chi’s,” said Baylor alumna Suzanne Sample Graham, the retired owner of Practical Photography and Publishing. “She made me think! On the job and in personal relationships, she was always asking “Why?” It’s been nearly 30 years and I still miss her.”

After graduation, Sharon joined the Associated Press and was posted in Dallas and Houston until she transferred to AP’s international desk in 1986. She was quickly promoted to news editor of the bureau in New Delhi in 1988 and by 1990 had become AP Bureau Chief in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Her final dispatch, “The Tragedy of Afghanistan,” chronicled a nightmarish year in Kabul during that country’s bloody civil war. Despite being repeatedly told that the country was too dangerous, she died enroute to writing a story on the excruciating efforts to clean up the tens of thousands of landmines left behind in Afghanistan by retreating Soviet forces, mines that were killing and maiming hundreds of children.

Following her tragic death, her fellow reporters were lavish in their praise of Sharon as a person and her work ethic. She was, wrote Ahmed Rashid, “a workaholic, a big risk-taker, like any good journalist, and meticulous about her work to the point of obsession.” She wrote, “beautiful prose and could transform normal, dull wire-service copy into incredibly lucid stories.” And, Ahmed noted in the obituary, she “loved” the people of Afghanistan.

While in Houston, Sharon fully participated in the astronaut training in 1986 for the Challenger mission, only to watch in horror when the ship exploded in mid-air. Other memorable stories included a first-hand account of a hurricane in Houston and unflinching coverage of a civil war in Sri Lanka.

At her passing, Sharon became the second Baylor war correspondent to die while covering a conflict, following Wilson Fielder, who died in Korea in July 1950.

The rich, colorful and altogether too-short life of Sharon Herbaugh is worth celebrating nearly 30 years later. As Ahmed Rashid wrote, Sharon “will always be remembered for the dedication she brought to her craft” and “the joy she gave to her friends.”

Sharon Kay Herbaugh

Born January 28, 1954

Died April 16, 1993


News and Newsmakers December 1, 2021

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By Morgan Carter

The Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media is excited to showcase the following individuals in its 2021 “News and Newsmakers” exhibit: James Baldwin, Nellie Bly, Cesar Chavez, Sandra Cisneros, Wilson Fielder, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  and Ida B. Wells. These are notable history makers who led or documented important social movements. They include journalists, poets, activists and historians who made an important mark on society.

James Baldwin

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin was the oldest of nine children, born in Harlem in 1924. Although he had a strained relationship with his stepfather, Baldwin followed his footsteps and became a preacher throughout his early years. This experience pushed him to become a writer and influenced his work, which can be seen in the biblical language and tone throughout his writing. Baldwin’s literary successes are mostly credited to the fellowships he participated in. After befriending Richard Wright, a popular writer at the time, he was able to move to Paris at the age of 24 and begin his literary career.

Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) was Baldwin’s first published novel, highlighting his time spent in Harlem and tackling issues such as parental relationships and religion. During that period of his life, his work primarily covered what was known then as controversial/taboo topics, such as homosexuality, interracial relationships, and racism. James Baldwin was a writer of variety, as he produced works in the forms of novels, playwrights, and essays. However, his essays are the basis of discussion when many refer to him as the top writer of his time.

Mirroring his own life, he speaks on the Black experience in America, seen in his most popular essays Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (1961). These works helped Baldwin arise as one of the prominent voices within the Civil Rights Movement. The Fire of Next Time (1963), was a critical collection of essays that was used as a way of educating White Americans on what it meant to be Black, offering a chance for readers to step into the shoes of others. As a result of the essay’s success, James Baldwin was featured on the cover of TIMES Magazine.

After the Civil Rights Era and the death of influential leaders who were also his friends, such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers, Baldwin returned to France where he continued to write. His most notable book, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) was later adapted into a film in 2018, focusing on the harsh reality of the times. James Baldwin died in 1987 at the age of 63 from stomach cancer.

His work lives on through his extensive and thought-provoking literary efforts that have been referenced through scholars and classrooms alike. Directed by Raoul Peck, the documentary I Am Not Your Negro (2016) aired, focusing on the novel James Baldwin never finished to explore a fresh perspective between the current racial tensions in America and the problematic climate Baldwin experienced.


Nellie Bly

“Energy rightly applied can accomplish anything.”

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, also known as Nellie Bly, was born in Pennsylvania in 1864 and was no stranger to letting her voice be heard. Bly began her journalism career at the age of 18, where she submitted a provoking response to an editorial piece in the Pittsburg Dispatch, combatting the stated claims that women were best for domestic duties and working women were monstrosities. Her fierce rebuttal landed her a position with the paper, where she started her journalism career as a reporter.

Her work highlights the importance of women’s rights and equality, seen in her undercover work where she posed as a sweatshop worker to expose poor working conditions faced by women. Feeling limited at the Pittsburg Dispatch, Bly relocated to New York City and began working for the New York World, notorious for kicking off ‘yellow journalism’. Comfortable with risk-taking, Bly was prominently known for her passion in investigative journalism.

One of the assignments that fueled her journalistic career was her expose focusing on the experiences of patients within the mental health facility on Blackwell’s Island (now known as Roosevelt’s Island) in NYC, titled Ten Days in a Mad House (1887), which was later formatted into a book. Bly pretended to be mentally unstable to gain entry to the asylum, where she resided there for ten days. Her work shed light on numerous red flags, prompting a large-scale investigation that led the city of New York to implement new changes and procedures for the Department of Public Charities and Corrections.

Bly retired journalism relatively early, becoming the wife of a millionaire. In 1903, her husband passed, leaving a large manufacturing company in her hands. This inheritance caused her to patent several inventions related to oil manufacturing, where some are still used today. Before she passed from pneumonia in 1922, Nellie Bly returned to journalism, covering World War I and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, where she interviewed prominent figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Emma Goldman.


Cesar Chavez

“We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.

Cesar Chavez, born in 1927 near Yuma, Arizona, was known as a leader for farm labor, Latino, and civil rights. At the age of 11, Chavez and his family lost their farm due to the Great Depression. Completing his education in the eighth grade, Chavez worked alongside his family as migrant farm workers, to help support full-time. While laboring throughout his youth and early adulthood life, he was exposed to the injustices farm workers experienced when he moved to California, which influenced the next stage of his life.

The Community Service Organization (CSO), one of the most influential Latino civil rights groups of its time, molded Chavez’s passion for community organization. Chavez worked with the group for ten years, aiding with voter registration and the ongoing battle racial and economic discrimination in California. In 1962, Cesar Chavez left CSO and started the National Farm Workers Association (which later became the United Farmworkers of America) alongside his wife and eight children. This spearheaded a positive shift for farmworkers, as the UFW was the first successful farm worker union in American history.

Chavez lived a humble life advocating for equal rights for farm workers. After turning down an offer to serve as the head of the Peace Corps of Latin America by President Kennedy, he lived a life of self-inflicted poverty causing him to make no more than $6,000 a year throughout his lifetime. Although he lived in voluntary poverty until the late 1990s, he established notable achievements for farm workers including the creation of the first credit union for farmworkers, job-training programs such as the Fred Ross Education Institute, affordable housing and homeownership communities for workers, and the creation of the Radio Campesina network, a 13-station educational and Spanish-oriented farm worker radio station.

Cesar Chavez’s union strategies were mostly adopted for organized labor, as he was known for his pledge to nonviolence efforts. Senator Robert Kennedy called Chavez ‘one of the heroic figures of our time’ due to his diligence too fast for nonviolence and progression on union issues, which grabbed the attention of the public. As result of his leadership in boycotts and strikes, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 was passed in California, establishing the only law that allows farm workers the right to organize, choose their own union representative, and negotiate with their employers. Cesar Chavez passed in 1993 in San Louis, Arizona, yet his effort lives on. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by former President Clinton in 1994.


Sandra Cisneros

“We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.”

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954, the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children. I studied at Loyola University of Chicago (B.A. English, 1976) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. Creative Writing, 1978).

She is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, performer, and artist whose work explores the lives of the working-class.  She worked as a teacher and counselor to high-school dropouts, as an artist-in-the-schools where she taught creative writing at every level except first grade and pre-school, a college recruiter, an arts administrator, and as a visiting writer at a number of universities including the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Her numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Fellowship, several honorary doctorates and national and international book awards, including Chicago’s Fifth Star Award, the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and the National Medal of the Arts award presented to her by President Obama in 2016. She received the Ford Foundation’s Art of Change Fellowship, was recognized among The Frederick Douglass 200, and won the PEN/Nabokov Award for international literature.

In addition to her writing, Cisneros has fostered the careers of many aspiring and emerging writers through two non-profits she founded: the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. She is also the organizer of Los MacArturos, Latino MacArthur fellows who are community activists. Her literary papers are preserved in Texas at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.

Her classic, coming-of-age novel, The House on Mango Street, has sold over six million copies, has been translated into twenty-five languages, and is required reading in elementary, high school, and universities across the nation.  Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories was awarded the PEN Center West Award for Best Fiction of l99l, the Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Lannan Foundation Literary Award, and was selected as a noteworthy book of the year by The New York Times and The American Library Journal, and nominated Best Book of Fiction for l99l by The Los Angeles Times.


Sandra Cisneros Website https://www.sandracisneros.com/


Wilson Fielder

There isn’t a box that could contain the stories of the lives of people Wilson Fielder Jr. touched. The Times reporter, who was killed during the Korean War, had a hunger for journalism.

“In a day where journalists are reviled by some, dismissed by others, Wilson Fielder’s joy and passion for his sacred craft is best epitomized in the generations of journalists who followed him, forever running towards the sounds of battle, the fires in the tallest towers and the often equally dangerous whispers in the back rooms of the halls of power,” Bob Darden said in “Wilson Fielder’s Last Assignment.”

He was born on 1917 July 28th, the first of five children, for Baptist missionaries John Wilson Fielder Sr. and Maudie Ethel Albritton in a hospital in Kaifeng, China. In 1936, Fielder left his family to spend time traveling around Europe, ending up in Waco where he enrolled at Baylor University to pursue a degree in journalism.

By 1939, Fielder had become the editor of the Baylor Lariat, while also working for the Waco-Tribune Herald. Fielder graduated Baylor in 1940 and began to work for the Corpus Christi Caller Times. Fielder entered the Marine Officer’s Cadet School at Quantico in 1942 to prepare to fight in World War II. Wilson then was hired by the Times in 1949, where he joined their bureau in China, covering the defeat of the Chinese Nationalist Forces. When the North Korean army invaded the southern half of the peninsula in 1950, Fielder became Time’s correspondent and headed to where fighting was heaviest, the Taejon Front. It was here where the 1st Battalion of the 24th infantry division was attempting to hold the North Korean advance. It also became Fielder’s last known location before he went missing in action during the fighting.

It took more than two years for Virginia and the Fielders to learn of their son and husband’s death. When Fielder’s body was finally recovered, the 33-year-old man was buried in a graveyard for Westerners outside of Yokohama, Japan, on 1952 March 11th. In Fielder’s memory, a scholarship was established to support students of journalism at Baylor University. Darden stated Wilson Fielder scholarship recipients have  exemplified so many of the best traits of Fielder.

“A restless thirst for truth, even if that meant putting themselves in harm’s way,” he said.
Darden added that the scholarship exemplifies curiosity, and that journalism certainly doesn’t come without its challenges. He said being a good reporter means not taking stories at their face value and sometimes getting in trouble more than the average reporter, yet this also means getting in trouble for the right reasons.



Sharon K. Herbaugh

Sharon K. Herbaugh was born in Lamar, Colorado on January 28, 1954, where she resided until she moved away to attend college at Baylor University. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Baylor, where she also served as the editor of the Lariat.

The Baylor alumna began working for the Associate Press in 1978, starting off as a vacation relief staffer in Colorado before her first international assignment in 1988, where she worked as a news editor in New Delhi, India.

Known for her coverage of political and social matters in Afghanistan, she continued her work until her death, where she became the first female bureau chief to be killed while on assignment for the Associate Press.

Herbaugh kept her personal life hidden from the outside world. She had one daughter in 1980, but to avoid interfering with her career, she sent her to live with her parents. Herbaugh paid her final visit to home in 1989 and on April 16, 1993,  Herbaugh was killed in a fatal plane crash in Afghanistan.


Martin Luther King Jr.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., most notably known for his role within the Civil Rights Movement and his speeches tackled to face racial injustices and equality, was born in 1929 in Atlanta, GA. Developing his public speaking skills early, King followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather where he attended Morehouse College, an all-male HBCU, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in sociology. He later enrolled in seminary school and pursued his doctoral degree in theology at Boston University, where he met his wife, Coretta.

After the completion of his degree, he moved to Alabama where his career in activism began. King played a monumental role in the progression of civil rights, seen in his leadership of the bus boycott movement alongside Rosa Parks. King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with other Black church leaders in the south, which focused on nonviolent efforts against Jim Crow laws. His nonviolent practices and consistent protests led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, game-changers for racial equality in America.

One of his most famous protests started in 1963 focusing on desegregation of public places through nonviolent sit-ins led by King. The harsh media coverage and unfair treatment of the protestors led to the infamous resignation of Birmingham police chief Bull Conner and the desegregation of public places within the city. King’s most legendary letter, Letter from Birmingham Jail, was the birthplace of one of his famously known quotes, ‘…injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

Working along the SCLC and NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), King organized the March on Washington for the civil and economic rights of Black Americans, where he gave his highly referenced, I Have a Dream (1963) speech. Dr. King was assassinated in Tennessee in 1968, yet his impact lives on throughout the lives of many. His role as an activist, speaker, and fighter of injustice paved the way for much of the equality that is seen today. In addition to becoming the youngest (35) to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, King was also awarded the NAACP Medal, the American Liberties Medallion, Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well as his own holiday, which is celebrated the third Monday of January each year.


Lisa Ling

“There’s so much grey to every story— nothing is so black and white.”

Lisa Ling

At the age of 21, Lisa Ling got her start in journalism as a correspondent for Channel One News where she covered the Civil War in Afghanistan. She later became a co-host on The View, an ABC Daytime Show, where she won her first daytime Emmy.

Ling uncovers stories that are often neglected and hidden from dozens of countries, such as the bride burning in India and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, amongst others. Operating in various roles, Ling worked as a special correspondent for CNN’s Planet in Peril, a field correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show and a contributor to Nightline and National Geographic’s Explorer. In 2011, her acclaimed documentary series, Our America with Lisa Ling, began airing on OWN.

Currently,  Ling is the host and executive producer of the CNN Original Series, This is Life with Lisa Ling. With each episode, she immerses herself within communities across America, giving viewers a different perspective and inside look at some of the most unconventional segments of society. In 2017, the series won a Gracie Award. She is also the host of the CNN Digital Series This is Sex with Lisa Ling, and This is Birth with Lisa Ling.


CNN. “Lisa Ling.” CNN, n.d, https://www.cnn.com/profiles/lisa-ling-profile#about.

Ida B. Wells

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.

Ida B. Wells, born in 1862 in Missouri, was known for her role in activism and journalism throughout the 19th and 20th century. Entering the role of motherhood early, Wells became the sole caretaker of her brothers and sister after Yellow Fever took the life of her parents and younger brother. Wells then moved to Memphis to support her family as an educator.

In 1892, Ida B. Wells published her first expose which focused on the lynching of African American men. Wells then relocated to Chicago due to the brutal threats that followed the literary release. Wells activist stance focused on the betterment of African Americans and women’s rights. However, her most notable advancements focus on the anti-lynching campaign, seen in her publication A Red Record (1893). Wells established the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 and was one of founding members of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Leaving behind a monumental legacy within the social and political realm, Wells died of kidney disease in 1931 in Chicago.


Baylor Student Media Positions and Promotions November 19, 2021

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Christy Soto

Former LTVN anchor/reporter

Weekend News Anchor at NBC2 – Fort Myers, Fla.

(Weekend anchor?)


Shehan Jeyarajah

Former Lariat sports editor/writer

National College Football Writer for CBS Sports

Podcast co-host of national College Football Survivor Show


Jenna Frisby

Former Lariat Social Media Editor

Manager of corporate social media communications

Monumental Sports & Entertainment (Washington, DC)


Adam Gibson

Former Lariat sports writer

Corporate communications associate

KPMG US (Dallas)


Kaitlyn (DeHaven) Orred

Former Lariat digital managing editor/social media editor/design editor/arts & life editor

Digital Marketing Specialist

Text-Em-All (Frisco)


Meredith Pratt

Former Lariat assistant news editor/staff writer

Social media coordinator

SIL International (Dallas)


Liesje Powers

Former Lariat photo editor/photographer

Multimedia Editor

Advocate Media (Dallas)


Jessika Harkay

Former Lariat sports writer

Breaking news reporter

Fort Worth Star-Telegram


Matthew Soderberg

Former Lariat editor-in-chief/city editor/sports writer

Assistant Sports Information Director

University of North Texas (Denton)


Meredith Aldis

Former LTVN reporter

Reporter at WRCB-TV

Chattanooga, TN


Jakob Brandenburg

Former LTVN reporter

Sports Director KOSA-CBS7 (Midland-Odessa) 


Baylor Student Media off to Strong Start November 19, 2021

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Baylor Student Media is off to a strong start this year, earning an impressive 40 national awards in the past two months from collegiate and professional organizations.

The Lariat was a finalist for a prestigious Editor & Publisher’s EPPY Award for best campus website,  in good company with the eventual winner, Syracuse University’s Newhouse Communication Center.  Our students also were named an Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker finalist. The Lariat also earned first place editorial cartoon and first place special section (“Baylor Backstory”) from the College Media Association.

Lariat TV News also earned a finalist Pacemaker recognition from ACP. LTVN has been racking up the accolades, in fact. Notable awards: first place Pinnacle in sports broadcast from the College Media Association; first place video news package and video newscast in CMA’s film and audio festival; first place Best of Show for broadcast news story and broadcast news program from the Association Collegiate Press; and first place feature news reporting from College Broadcasters Inc.

Roundup has received numerous awards for design as well.

We are early in the contest season, so we look forward to seeing the students’ hard work recognized from other organizations later this year.





Andrea Gaul Accepts New Role as Internal Communications Manager at the National Safety Council November 19, 2021

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Baylor JPR&NM alumna Andrea Gaul recently accepted a new role as Internal Communications Manager at the National Safety Council, America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate.

Gaul was previously employed at Neighborly, the world’s largest home services franchisor. There,  she managed both internal and external communications functions for five national home service brands.

Gaul earned her bachelor’s degree in 2017 at Baylor University in Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media with a Business concentration.

At Baylor, Gaul served on the Baylor PRSSA board and was a journalism department ambassador. She recently moved from Waco to Austin and will work fully remote.

Lately, in her spare time, she has been planning her wedding! She and her fiancé Sean (who she met at Neighborly!) got engaged earlier this year in Portland, Oregon, and will get married October 2022.

Gaul is excited to “fling her green and gold afar” in this new role.


Alumnus Shehan Jeyarajah Joins CBS Sports as a National College Football Writer November 17, 2021

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Baylor Journalism, Public Relations and New Media alumnus Shehan Jeyarajah (BA, Class of 2016) joined CBS Sports as a National College Football Writer. His first day was Aug. 29.

In his new job, Jeyarajah takes a leading role in multimedia coverage at CBS, regularly contributing news writing, columns, picks and features that appear on http://CBSSports.com. He will also appear on the 24-hour CBS Sports HQ streaming channel heading forward.

Jeyarajah serves on the national board of the Football Writer’s Association of America (FWAA), works as one of 18 national selectors for the FWAA All-America team and votes for numerous other college football awards, including the Biletnikoff, Earl Campbell Tyler Rose, Nagurski and others. He is also a proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association.

Prior to CBS Sports, Jeyarajah worked as college football editor and insider at Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, leading comprehensive coverage of the 47 institutions that play college football at all levels in Texas and writing cover stories for three football and two basketball magazines. He previously covered Big 12 and SEC football for Cox Media Group and contributed to college coverage at the Dallas Morning News.

Jeyarajah was the youngest writer honored in the FWAA’s Best Writing Contest in 2020 for his enterprise story on SMU’s Dallas Campaign and was named Outstanding Young Alumni by the Baylor Line Foundation in 2021.

While at Baylor, Jeyarajah served as the Lariat Sports Editor and a member of the editorial board.

The Coppell-native lives in Dallas with his wife, Bhargavi, a fellow 2016 Baylor graduate.


Baylor’s Editor-In-Chief Takes on Difficult Job November 17, 2021

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By Lucy Ruscitto

Editor-in-chief is no simple job. It involves extreme attention to detail, countless hours of brainstorming, a team player attitude and a talent of delegation and balance.

Ava Dunwoody, a junior and Baylor Lariat editor-in-chief from California, is a bit different than your typical Lariat staff member. Her plan is to become a high school teacher post-graduation.

Dunwoody is a secondary English-language arts major in the Baylor School of Education, and is minoring in news editorial, a track within the journalism major.

“When I was in high school, I joined the newspaper not really knowing what it was. But I was looking for an organization that I could devote some time to, and I knew that I liked writing so I gave it a shot,” she explained. “I fell in love with the program and decided that journalism was something that I wanted to pursue.”

Her passion for writing and storytelling was sparked, and ever since she has had her heart set on becoming a high school journalism teacher, overseeing and managing the student newspaper.

A year ago, she began her college journalism journey as a staff writer for the Baylor Lariat.

“I knew that I wanted to work for the Lariat ever since I went to Baylor. But I was nervous my freshman year,” Dunwoody admitted.

After taking Professor Amber Adamson’s “Reporting/Writing for the Media” class, Ava decided to take the jump and asked her how to go about writing some contributing pieces for the Baylor Lariat.

Through the encouragement and advice of her professor, she applied to the student publication the following semester as a staff writer. Falling in love with news writing, she continued up in the ranks into the arts & life editor position the next spring, and she says she loved the different duties the role presented and challenged her with.

“I actually wasn’t going to apply for editor-in-chief until my advisor approached me and told me that I should throw my name in the hat,” Dunwoody said. “I was super nervous, but I did it.”

Ava described the interview process as being very “intense”​​— she had to interview with 10 faculty members on a selection board and pitch herself to them as to why she deserved the position.

“I ended up getting it and I have loved it ever since,” she said.

Dunwoody revealed that this experience has pushed her out of her comfort zone in more ways than one, and she is proud not only of herself but especially her staff and their accomplishments.

“I’ve absolutely been the proudest of my staff on print night. We started off on our first edition five hours past deadline, and it was devastating,” Dunwoody described. “We’ve made a ton of progress, in terms of meeting deadlines and the content that we’ve been pumping out has been great. And so, I have just been as proud of all the products that we’ve created as a team. And we had a lot of fun doing it too, which is great.”

While there have been some very defining and impressive moments, Ava said she had also struggled with being one of the newer ones on staff, while also holding the most executive position within the student organization.

“My biggest challenge so far has been the fact that all of the staff members that came before me that I looked up to and relied on for a lot of my advice comes to journalism. They have all graduated,” Dunwoody said. “While I still can reach out to them, and I call them sometimes, and they share their wisdom with me, and I tell them what’s going on in the newsroom. Still, it’s different now that they have moved on.”

Despite some initial roadblocks that she and her staff overcame through time and teamwork, she said she has been inspired to encourage non-journalism students to apply for Baylor publication positions— especially if writing, photography or design is one of their passions.

“There’s room for everyone, in everything that you do. There’s room for new people in journalism, there’s always room for people to write contributing pieces in the Lariat,” she said.

“There’s always people that are willing to teach you a certain skill, whether it’s as simple as learning how to play chess, or something or as advanced as learning how to be a broadcast reporter. My advice would be to just go for it and try it because the worst that can happen is they find out that’s not their passion, it will lead them to what is.”

Rick Bradfield Award for Breaking News and Investigative Journalism November 17, 2021

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Veteran newsman Rick Bradfield’s legacy will live on forever with the Rick Bradfield Award for Breaking News and Investigative Journalism.

Individuals who want to donate to the Rick Bradfield fund online may click directly on the below link, or visit wacofoundation.org, click “Donate” at the top right, and search for the Rick Bradfield Award for Breaking News and Investigative Journalism. From there, they can follow the prompts to submit a donation via credit card.

Direct link to fund: https://waco.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=2436.

If a donor wants to give a donation by check, they should make the check out to Waco Foundation and include “Rick Bradfield Fund” in the memo line. The check can be mailed to Waco Foundation, 1227 N. Valley Mills, Suite 235, Waco, TX 76710. The donation will be deposited directly into the fund.

All donations are made to Waco Foundation, a 501c3 organization, for the benefit of the Rick Bradfield Award for Breaking News and Investigative Journalism, and therefore are tax-deductible. We recommend donors visit with their tax professionals to determine deductibility. If donors have questions or would like more information, they can call me at 254-754-3404.

Waco Foundation is also able to accept non-cash assets like publicly traded stock, real estate, business interests, etc. If a donor is interested in a non-cash gift, we can certainly meet with him or her to visit about the best options.

Natalie Kelinske
Senior Director of Communications & Donor Services

1227 N. Valley Mills Drive, Suite 235
Waco, Texas 76710
P: 254.754.3404
F: 254.753.2887