Skip Navigation
Missouri School of Journalism

The J-School Magazine

June 2012

Bookmark and Share

J-School Life





About the Magazine

One Step Down But Countless Strides Forward

The Missouri Group: George Kennedy, Brian Brooks, Darly Moen and Don Ranly
"The Big Four" co-authored News Reporting and Writing in 1980: George Kennedy, Brian Brooks, Daryl Moen and Don Ranly. Photo courtesy of Daryl Moen.

Associate Dean Brian Brooks Dedicated His Career to Helping Students and Improving Journalism Education

By Alex Cadice
Strategic Communication Student

After 38 years of working for the Missouri School of Journalism, Brian Brooks, BJ '67, MA '69, will retire later this year from his position as associate dean for undergraduate studies and administration. During Brooks' tenure, he educated thousands of aspiring editors, helped propel the School to the forefront of technological innovation and co-authored journalism textbooks used in curricula around the world.

People Links
Story Links

Brooks' efforts have elevated the School's status as a leader in journalism education and raised the standards and expectations for journalists everywhere. While his tenure as associate dean will end in August, his impact around campus and the world will continue. He plans to continue working part-time in the fall semester.

"Brian is one of those faculty who truly will be impossible to replace," says Dean Mills, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. "He established a reputation as a legendary teacher, editor and textbook author early in his career. Then he topped it off, during the last few years, by becoming a legendary undergraduate dean, pushing for quality and innovation."

The Missouri Appeal

After completing his master's degree in May 1969, Brooks spent the summer working as an instructor for the Columbia Missourian, the School's daily community newspaper. He produced the Missourian's extra edition when man first landed on the moon that summer. The position bridged the time Brooks had between completion of his master's degree and active duty in the military.

That fall, Brooks exchanged his thick editing pencil for olive-drab uniforms and began using his newly-earned Army ROTC commission. He spent the next two-and-a-half years in Germany and Vietnam, where he served as an information officer for the 1st Cavalry Division. The position is usually held by a lieutenant colonel or a major, but Brooks served in it as a first lieutenant. His efforts earned him a Bronze Star medal, an individual military decoration that is awarded for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service; Brooks' award is for meritorious service. The Bronze Star is the fourth highest combat award offered by the U.S. Armed Forces.

In 1972, following his service, Brooks returned to his home of Memphis, Tenn. He began working for the Memphis Press-Scimitar, an afternoon daily newspaper with an editorial staff of about 150. Brooks worked as a reporter, copy editor and finally as night city editor.

He was night city editor when he got a call from the Missouri School of Journalism: Would he be interested in interviewing for a position with the Columbia Missourian?

"I always thought, when I was in grad school, that it would be fun to come back and teach," Brooks says. "It never occurred to me it would happen that quickly."

Brian Brooks Graduation
Brian Brooks, BJ '67, MA '69, has been a Missouri Tiger for more than 40 years. Photo courtesy of Anne Brooks.
Brian Brooks in 1969
Brooks spent the summer of 1969 working as an instructor for the Columbia Missourian, where he was able to cover the moon landing. Photo courtesy of Anne Brooks.
Brian Brooks in Vietnam
First lieutenant Brooks spent two-and-a-half years with the Army in Vietnam and Germany. Photo courtesy of Anne Brooks.

Brooks told his wife that if he were offered the job, he would accept anything within $5,000 of his current annual salary. Brooks did not know if the opportunity to teach would be there in the future, and he refused to let it pass.

Brooks accepted the position of news editor in 1974, and for the next few years he supervised the Missourian copy desk. His job duties were those of any news editor, but at the Missourian the job also entailed mentoring and educating students. He later served for four years as managing editor of the Missourian and spent his first 15 years on the faculty there.

During his time in graduate School, Brooks had developed a reputation for his exacting copy editing skills, and his talent had become even sharper with his work at the Press-Scimitar.

"He is Mr. Copy Editor around here," Daryl Moen says, professor and another former managing editor of the Missourian.

Brooks' reputation as a top-notch editor was known in the newspaper industry, too. He received - but turned down - several other job offers over the course of the next several years. Brooks enjoyed teaching in the close-knit community of Columbia, where he was also able to purchase season tickets to Tiger football and basketball games, a tradition he keeps today.

Brooks and his wife, Anne, also saw Columbia as a great place to raise their family. Before departing for Germany, they had welcomed Jeff, the first of their two sons, into the world. Kevin would be born after their return to Columbia in 1975. Jeff is now a professor at Iowa State University, and Kevin is vice president of a software company, Saepio Inc., in Kansas City.

Brooks embraced teaching opportunities beyond the walls of the newsroom during his time at the School. In addition to teaching classes on copyediting, he also has taught graduate seminars, news writing and a freshman-level course that showcased various emphasis areas offered at the J-School. Brooks started one class, Career Explorations in Journalism, to help students find their own niche in journalism and strategic communication.

"The Big Four"

When Brooks first joined the Missourian staff in 1974, he was teamed with a couple of other newcomers: Daryl Moen, the managing editor of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, and George Kennedy, a reporter at The Miami Herald. They all had similar views about how to produce effective news reporting but couldn't find a textbook that satisfied them.

Brian Brooks Editing the Missourian
On top of editing the Missourian, Brooks was also responsible for teaching aspiring journalists as well. Photo courtesy of Anne Brooks.

Brooks, Kennedy and Moen teamed up with Don Ranly, then editor of Vibrations, the Missourian's Sunday magazine, to write News Reporting and Writing, first published in 1980. The book, now in its 10th edition, continues to be used by colleges and universities around the world. It is available in public libraries on five continents, and a digital edition of the book will be available in August 2012.

The writing responsibilities were evenly distributed among the authors. Ranly, Moen and Kennedy covered the ethics, advanced reporting and journalistic practice sections, respectively. Brooks provided the technological advancements and editing chapters. He put his words into action by editing the book before its release.

The careers of Brooks, Kennedy, Moen and Ranly have run similar paths. All four started in Columbia within a year of each other. All have worked for the Missourian and taught at the J-School, and all but Ranly have run the Missourian's editorial operations. They have more than 20 years of combined experience as associate deans.

"They were the 'Big Four,'" says Colin Kilpatrick, executive director of advancement and a former student. "They are the legends of the School."

The Missouri Network

Brooks played a major role in incorporating technology in student learning at the J-School. The field of journalism had seen only a few technological breakthroughs in decades, but Brooks noticed the potential in personal computers.

Brooks partnered with Phill Brooks, BJ '70, MA '72, a journalism colleague and self-taught computer programmer. Together, the two secured a $15 million grant from IBM Corporation, which lasted from 1989 to 1997. IBM had noticed the pioneering work of the Brooks Brothers, as they became known, in designing a production network for the Missourian using personal computers. In 1985, it became the first such network at any newspaper in the world. As a result, the School's computers were linked together through one network for 10 years before the World Wide Web even existed.

The IBM grant enabled the entire School to computerize. IBM's investment allowed the J-School to install three generations of computers and the network infrastructure behind it. No area of the School went unaffected. The Missourian also became the first newspaper in the state to design its pages on computers, even before The Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The collaboration between IBM and the School had international ramifications as well. In collaboration with IBM, Brooks and Brooks traveled to Spain to design and install the first journalism network system at the University of Navarra in Pamplona. The two made several similar trips to Europe. In fact, they were among the first J-School faculty members to travel to Eastern Europe after the Iron Curtain's collapse in 1991. With a U.S. Information Agency grant, they helped to establish free press systems in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. With schools in the United Kingdom, Norway and Spain, they formed a consortium to help journalists and journalism schools in those countries.

Brian Brooks at the European Stars and Stripes
Brooks' work with Stars and Stripes was awarded with Department of Defense Exceptional Public Service Award in 1999. Photo courtesy of Anne Brooks.

Brooks took a two-year sabbatical and leave of absence from 1997 to 1999 to become editor of the European edition of Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military newspaper. There he used his technological expertise to help install satellite transmission of paginated pages to remote printing plants in Rome and London. He also directed Stripes' coverage of the Bosnia and Kosovo missions as well as the bombing of Belgrade. At the end of his tenure there, he was awarded the Department of Defense Exceptional Public Service Award.

Brooks' eye for the technological future didn't end with IBM and Stars and Stripes. Trying to stay ahead of the curve, upon his return to the School in 1999, Brooks began working with Keith Politte, current manager of the Technology Testing Center at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. The two saw the culture of innovation on campus as a great opportunity since technology was rapidly advancing. They believed Apple's 2004 creation of the Apple Digital Campus consortium was the perfect opening for the School to take that next step.

Apple Digital Campus was a program in which five universities would receive the latest technological know-how from Apple. Before they could address Apple in California and appeal for inclusion, Brooks and Politte had to convince the School's faculty of the partnership's potential. Their efforts proved successful when the Missouri School of Journalism became one of the five ADC campuses along with Stanford University, Duke University, Pennsylvania State University and The Ohio State University.

"Brian Brooks has a great saying that we still refer to, which is, 'What can we do with technology that we haven't been able to do before?'" Politte says.

That philosophy has driven the School's computerization projects.

"It made little sense to merely duplicate on computer what you had been doing on paper," Brooks explains. "Computerization should be used to do things better or to do things never before possible."

The Missouri Legacy

Journalism students are Brooks' living legacy. Shortly after becoming associate dean in 2004, Brooks - with the encouragement of Dean Mills - developed the Walter Williams Scholars program for high-ability students. Named for the School's founding dean, the program attracts high school students who have earned a minimum ACT score of 33 or SAT score of 1440. Students selected for the program are awarded a scholarship of at least $1,000 annually and are automatically admitted to the master's program at the School of Journalism as long as they maintain high grade-point averages.

There have been more than 500 Walter Williams Scholars since its 2004 inception, and about half are currently enrolled in the School. At one time, seven students who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT were enrolled in the School at the same time. There are four currently enrolled. The scholarship helps attract students from across the country, and the quality of those students also attracts top professors to the School.

"Brian is going to be most remembered for the work he has done in recruiting and retaining students, especially at the undergraduate level," Kennedy says. "He really reinvented the job and has dramatically changed the work for the associate dean."

Brooks often connects with students over meals at residential dining halls. This allows him to gauge what students are thinking about outside the world of journalism.

"Brooks genuinely likes dealing with students," Kennedy says. "I think he would say that the most rewarding part of his job is the opportunity to interact with all of the students."

"Brian also is a workaholic. He overcommits to the job and sees the opportunity for work that the rest of us don't."

Brooks, however, doesn't see a lot of what he does for the School as work.

"I hope people realize I love this School," Brooks says. "I have devoted my life to it."

Brooks' friends are recognizing his passion for the J-School and its students by establishing a scholarship in his name, which will be offered for the first time in Fall 2012. The scholarship will assist one journalism student regardless of interest area.

Many of the donors to the Brian S. Brooks Scholarship are Brooks' Delta Sigma Phi fraternity brothers. Brooks was the fraternity's president during his undergraduate years and has worked tirelessly for the organization locally and nationally. As an alumnus, he has held more than six positions on the national and international levels. In 1995 he was named Mr. Delta Sig, the fraternity's highest honor.

Brooks will continue to work part-time and promote the School, recruiting more Walter Williams scholars and others. He plans to teach the Career Explorations in Journalism and European Media courses in the fall semesters and travel with his wife in the spring.

"Baseball spring training is on the agenda for next year," he says.

Alex Cadice Alex Cadice graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in May, with an emphasis in strategic communication. He worked as an executive assistant for the Missouri Multicultural Certificate program and as a public relations account executive for Mojo-Ad. Cadice was the recipient of the 2011 Mid-Missouri Heart Star award, where he traveled the area as a keynote speaker, raising money and awareness for the American Heart Association.

Missouri Journalism Alumni  
Use the Submit a Class Note form for shorter updates. If you would like to submit more detailed information, use the Submit a Profile form instead.

Please Note: All text and photos submitted to the J-School may be edited and posted on the J-School's public Web site. The School does not publish contact information to its public Web pages, particularly e-mail addresses. Materials must be in accordance with the University's Acceptable Use Policy.

The J-School Magazine  |  Copyright © June 2012  |  Contact the School
Feature Stories

Revised: June 1, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Curators of the University of Missouri  |  Contact the J-School