Drink one tonight for Reese, the PI

Things to Drink in Honor Of — March 16 edition

1) The passing of Reese Cleghorn, former University of Maryland j-school dean, professor and once a giant in the world of southern newspapers:

Former Observer editorial editor dies

By Steve Lyttle
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com

Reese Cleghorn, who led The Observer’s editorial department during the turbulent changes of the early 1970s and later built a nationally prominent journalism department at the University of Maryland, died early Monday.

Cleghorn, 78, had taught at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism until December, when failing health forced him to retire.

Funeral details and other information are forthcoming, University of Maryland officials say.

A bunch of us had Reese for editorial writing in fall 2003 and have nothing but fond memories. He was crazy, disorganized a little out of touch, and stuck painfully to a requirement that students turn in assignments on floppy disks. But every so often a glimmer of incisive commentary or brilliant news comprehension would shine through, or he’d pass out an old column of his full of clever turns of phrase and hard-hitting aphorisms, and we’d be reminded: in his heyday, this guy was among the best.He may have been humorous in class, but when his red pen hit paper, it was sharp and cutting and spoke with diamond-tipped authority forged under the high-pressure environments  of the newsroom.

One assignment was to created an Automatic Bullshit Detector. Out of stuff like soda bottles, toilet paper rolls, rubber bands, paper clips and paper plates. I spent an inordinately long amount of time on mine.

He essentially built Maryland’s J-school into the program it is today, and students coming out of there over the past two decades owe a lot to him (he also, of note, was dean during Jayson Blair’s rise through the school).

2) The passing of the print edition of the Seattle PI, becoming the largest newspaper to close its print edition. I know these things are inevitable at this point, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not a sad reminder worth noting. The paper plans to keep publishing online and remake itself as an new type of media company, and maybe they’ll find success eventually.

This Simpler Times’s for you.

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3 responses to “Drink one tonight for Reese, the PI

  1. I think Zach Burns got drunk in the P-I’s newsroom yesterday, which may or may not have been his last day of work there before he returns to Buffalo, N.Y., to becomes a teacher.

  2. OMG I FORGOT ABOUT THE DISKS!!!!! Man, that was great. I just also remembered that foreign grad student he had teach us … you always did a great impression of him. I think that class very well may have been my favorite class at Maryland. Also, I concur – you always could tell that Reese in his heyday was a reporter and writer not to be reckoned with. And seriosuly, Team Platos could really be called “Team Platos sponsored by Reese.” good times.

  3. His wife made fantastic fried chicken.

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