Friday, November 24, 2006

The loss of Gerald Boyd

What a shock to awaken this morning to the news of the passing of former New York Times Managing Editor Gerald Boyd.

My first thought was "I didn't know he had been sick."

In reading some of the coverage in today's New York Times and the Washington Post story, apparently, most did not know that Boyd had battled lung cancer for the last few months.

One of the benefits of a web log is that you can type out your own personal thoughts on something while they're fresh on your mind. And to be honest, I'm not sure these thoughts will get lost in everything else I'm doing on this day after Thanksgiving.

As an African-American journalist (now journalism professor), I've been struck by the loss of so many brothers who have made such an impact on our profession.

Some might argue that Gerald Boyd's departure from the New York Times was the biggest loss. But, as you can see and read from his post-NY Times speech at the University of South Carolina and even his presentation a few years ago at the University of Missouri, Boyd took lots of time to contribute to the next generation of journalists.

According to the Washington Post report today, he also had played a role in the development of some courses at the Columbia School of Journalism. So, in spite of the fact that he got caught in the Jayson Blair debacle, he still made a contribution to our profession (present and future) beyond just his own personal achievements.

That's something that is significant.

As journalism educators, we have to make sure to call attention to the legacies of Boyd and Ed Bradley, who also died recently.

Notice I said both Boyd and Bradley. Even with the Jayson Blair scandal, Boyd still leaves a legacy that looms larger than his handling of one failed black journalist's career.

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