BJ ’62 Alumni Visit the School During the Gold Medal Society Reunion Weekend

By Gwen Girsdansky
Master’s Student

Columbia, Mo. (Sept. 11, 2012) — The newsroom is quieter now. The clanking sound of the typewriter has been replaced with the more muted tones of keyboards. Stories can’t wait for the print edition; the news needs to be up on the Web immediately.

The Columbia Missourian newsroom is much different now than when Charlie Colombo, Wayne Green, Al Strada and John Valenza – all BJ ’62 – worked as reporters during their time at the Missouri School of Journalism. The reporting class was required of all students, regardless of major, at the time.

Al Strada, John Valenza, Charlie Colombo and Wayne Green
From left: Al Strada, John Valenza, Charlie Colombo and Wayne Green – all BJ ’62 – stand in front of Neff Hall during their visit to the School during MAA’s Gold Medal Society Reunion Weekend. Photo: Gwen Girsdansky.

They returned to an entirely different journalism school when they recently attended the 50-year class Gold Medal Society Reunion Weekend sponsored by the Mizzou Alumni Association.

“I don’t recognize anything except the columns,” said Colombo, who lives in Westchester, N.Y., and is executive vice president of United Stations.

The group learned about the new undergraduate curriculum with more than 30 interest areas. The tour included a visit to the Reynolds Journalism Institute, which was dedicated during the School’s centennial in 2008, and incorporates some of what was Walter Williams Hall. The just-opened Microsoft Application Development Lab, which allows students the hands-on experience of experimenting with apps for any platform, and the Futures Lab, where students can work with online media, video and audio, demonstrate just how far journalism has changed. The term “convergence journalism,” for example, was not even coined when the quartet studied at Missouri.

Another standby, the Journalism Library, now offers a multitude of digital resources in its new space in RJI, a huge contrast from its previous location in Walter Williams Hall.

The alumni noted that the School’s core values of hands-on, real-media experience and spirit of innovation were still in place. And, professors are still committed to helping students develop their talents and launch their careers.

“Our professors were so professional; we were so blessed,” Strada said.

Strada, now the national sales director at Viamedia, had no intention of pursuing advertising when he entered Missouri.

“I wanted to be a sports journalist,” Strada said. “But I took an advertising placement test and aced it. I found it was my calling.”

For Green, it was the professors that completed the experience.

“All I had was a fantasy, and they taught me the basics,” he said.

They also taught him to stand by his word, Green said.

Green had accepted a summer internship at a small community paper in Texas when a larger city paper offered him a similar opportunity. As he considered changing his mind, a trusted professor advised him to keep his word.

“It was a great lesson in moral responsibility,” Green said.

Green went on to work for the Wall Street Journal for 25 years and owned two weeklies of his own, one in Texas and one in California.

For Valenza, Missouri remains “one of my best life experiences,” he said.

Gold Medal Society Reunion Weekend activities are held each year. For more information, contact MAA.

Updated: June 17, 2020

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