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Former Washington Post Editor Joins Cronkite as Gaylord Professor

April 4, 2016
Milton Coleman
Milton Coleman

Milton Coleman, a former senior editor at The Washington Post, is joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics at Arizona State University.

Coleman, who currently serves as ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will teach journalism ethics and diversity this fall at the Cronkite School. The veteran journalist retired from the Post in 2012 as senior editor, overseeing policies on corrections, standards and ethics.

“For four decades, Milton Coleman has been a leading figure in championing ethics and diversity in journalism,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “We are thrilled to welcome him to our school and look forward to the important lessons he will impart to our outstanding students.”

Coleman started his career at the Post in 1976 as a reporter covering government and politics. He later became city editor and then assistant managing editor in charge of metropolitan news. In 1996, he was promoted to deputy managing editor, where he created news collaborations with Spanish-language news outlets. He was named senior editor in 2009.

Coleman was hired at the Post 40 years ago by then Assistant Managing Editor/Metropolitan News Leonard Downie Jr., Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism who served as the newspaper’s executive editor for 17 years.

“Milton is uniquely qualified to teach journalistic ethics and diversity as a Gaylord Visiting Professor,” Downie said. “At The Washington Post, as an outstanding political reporter and senior editor, he was a strong advocate for diversity and professional development, a respected adviser on ethical news gathering and an influential mentor to many in the newsroom, including journalists of color. He was a media industry leader, serving as president of both the American Society of News Editors and the Inter-American Press Association.”

As CPB ombudsman, Coleman works as an independent observer of public broadcasting, reviewing and reporting on issues involving accuracy, transparency, objectivity and diversity.

Coleman said he looks forward to teaching at the Cronkite School, which operates the state’s largest public television station, Arizona PBS. He said the teaching of ethics is critical during this transitional time in journalism, noting technological changes have presented new ethical and legal challenges for journalists.

“I’m excited to engage with students to impart the lessons that I have learned and to invigorate their thinking and help them plot courses of success,” Coleman said.

Coleman, a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, also worked for the Milwaukee Courier, the African World newspaper in Greensboro, N.C., the All-African News Service, WHUR-FM News at Howard University, the Community News Service of New York and the Minneapolis Star.

He is an inductee into the Hall of Fame of the DC chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a past member of the Board of Visitors of the School of Communications at the University of Alabama, and the Board of Directors of the American Press Institute. He has served as a jury chairman for the Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism and as a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards and the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Awards.

The Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professorship was created in 2006 through a generous gift from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Edith Kinney Gaylord started the Oklahoma City-based foundation in 1982 to foster high ethical standards in the industry. Ms. Gaylord, the daughter of Daily Oklahoman Publisher E.K. Gaylord, launched her journalism career at her father’s newspaper in 1937 after graduating from college. In 1942, she joined The Associated Press in New York. The following year, she went to the AP’s Washington bureau, where she covered the Roosevelt administration and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II.

Coleman will be the ninth Gaylord Professor at Cronkite. Past Gaylord Professors include former Oregonian editor Peter Bhatia, former Oregonian editor Sandra Mims Rowe, former Detroit Free Press Executive Editor Caesar Andrews, former San Francisco Examiner Managing Editor Sharon Rosenhause, former Orange County Register Publisher and CEO Christian Anderson III, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor Ellen Soeteber and former Akron Beacon Journal Publisher Jim Crutchfield.