Case in Point

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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Russ Pulliam:A Voice from the Heartland (column: WJI Times Observer)

WJI Times Observer

Case in Point column

Next week (12/17/07) the institute will publish and distribute a collection of articles by the Indianapolis Star columnist, Russ Pulliam. I want to alert blog readers that this WJI monograph is free for the asking. Just go to our web page and click on “monograph.”  This is the first collection of articles we have published and it is fitting that it contains some of the work of long-time institute teacher and friend, Russell Pulliam.

I met Russ Pulliam about ten years ago when I pleaded with him to teach a component for a course at the World Journalism Institute. He agreed and has since become a mainstay in our instruction. But he is much more than one of our key instructors, although that would be quite sufficiently important in the enterprise of placing competent journalists who are Christian in the mainstream newsrooms of America.

Russ is one of those legacy journalists who was born with ink in his royal veins. Grandpa Pulliam was the powerful Eugene Pulliam who founded the Pulliam newspaper empire which stretched from Indiana to Arizona and who was a political kingmaker to boot. Dad Pulliam ran the Indianapolis Star like a benevolent emperor who treated his people like family. You can’t Google Butler University, Illinois State University, Franklin College, Gannett Company, Society for Professional Journalists, Indiana University, ad infinitum without running into the Pulliam name. On his own, Russ brings New York City Associated Press experience and Indianapolis Star editorial service to the table. He is also a protégé of the great New York Timesman, John McCandlish Phillips. It is worth noting that the distinguished World magazine board on which he sits as a rather new member asked him to serve as its chairman. Perhaps most importantly, he has added to the Pulliam heritage by supplying the journalism world with several children who have earned their reporting chops.

All of this is nifty stuff to note. But the real measure of Russ Pulliam is that he is one of the wise men in the movement to encourage aspiring Christian journalists to enter and earn their places in the newsrooms of America. He is constantly seeking to integrate his Christian faith with his noble calling as a journalist.

His style is self-effacing, retiring and even humble. But one ought not to be lulled into thinking that he is a pushover. He brings a fire-in-the-belly approach to journalism and a no nonsense attitude about reporting accurately, fairly and compellingly.

On hundreds of campuses and in newsrooms around the country the name of Russ Pulliam opens doors, offers encouragement and facilitates endeavors that are beneficial to journalists young and old. He is a gifted and hardworking mentor for young journalists from coast to coast. He seems to drop everything, except family, to encourage young journalists to improve their skills. Indeed, this first collection of his writings is born out of such a desire.

He is the first person I talk to when I contemplate a change in the WJI program. He is the first person I consult when I think about a major personnel change. Blessed is the journalist who comes under the personal and watchful eye of Russell Pulliam. I consider myself to be so blessed.

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