LSU’s Manship School turns 100

LSU’s journalism school celebrating centennial

Former President Richard Nixon was born in 1913 — the same year LSU unofficially established its Department of Journalism.

Now, 100 years later, an investigative journalist who played a key part in uncovering the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation is coming to LSU to help commemorate a century of journalism education at the university.

Carl Bernstein, who along with fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward was instrumental in untangling Nixon’s involvement in “Watergate,” will speak to a sold-out crowd of about 150 people Thursday afternoon at LSU in one of many events scheduled to celebrate the four-day birthday bash of the Manship School of Mass Communication.

Events begin Wednesday night with a “1913 Society Dinner,” continue Thursday and Friday with a series of panels, workshops and networking opportunities and culminate Saturday with a tailgate on the terrace of the journalism building prior to LSU’s homecoming football game against Furman.

“We’ve got hundreds of people coming to (the) events,” said Emily Wascom, who’s coordinating the “Manship Centennial” bash.

The only event open to the public free of charge is the Manship School Centennial Kickoff, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 24, at LSU’s Journalism Building. The kickoff will feature panels about the history of LSU’s student media outlets, the role of modern public relations specialists and “The Future of News.”

Jerry Ceppos, dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication, who will moderate “The Future of News” panel Thursday at 3 p.m., said today’s students must embrace the evolving digital media landscape and learn how to cope with rapidly changing technology.

“They need to be able to communicate across platforms,” Ceppos said of mass communication students. “They need to be able to write for print or broadcast or social media or whatever the next new thing is. And my goal is to make sure that every graduate can do that.”

While the media by which journalists tell their stories have morphed and multiplied over the years, Ceppos said, the core principles educators must provide their students hasn’t changed much over the past century.

“The biggest thing they’re going to take away from here is the ability to write clearly and think clearly in a world where people no longer know how to communicate,” Ceppos said.

The Manship School of Mass Communication, which in the spring boasted nearly 250 graduates, officially opened as the LSU School of Journalism in 1931, according to an interactive timeline on Manship100.com.

Nearly 20 years earlier, the Department of Journalism, which was first headed up by Dr. Hugh Mercer Blain, was spurred by the growth of The Reveille, one of the first student newspapers in the South.

The school of journalism has since changed names several times, officially taking its current name in 1988. Offering only journalism degrees for years, the school has since expanded its offerings to include concentrations in advertising, public relations and political communication.

Lance Porter, director of LSU’s Digital Media Initiative, said the exponential growth of modern technology has “wreaked havoc in the media industry,” but that the rapid pace of change makes the 21st century an exciting time to work in the communication field.

“Not everybody needs to know how to code,” Porter said, referring to computer programming, “you just need to know what code can do.”

ä ON THE INTERNET For a complete list of Manship Centennial events, please visit the interactive brochure on Manship100.com.