Ralph L. Holsinger · 1989
This speech was given at his induction into the Hall of Fame.
The nomination for induction in the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame of Ralph L. Holsinger, an Indiana University professor of journalism, was made by the I.U. School of Journalism and seconded by several newspaper editors across the state.
And the choice by the Hall of Fame selection committee was an easy one to make. It was eminently obvious that Ralph should be in the Hall of Fame. In the nomination of Ralph by the School of Journalism, its dean, Trevor R. Brown, wrote:
• “As a youngster and as a working journalist in Ohio, Professor Holsinger knew Indiana as the state next door. He came to I.U. in 1965 and we soon turned him into a Hoosier. He trained hundreds of young people in reporting and editing, then added communications law to his expertise and his fame became even more widespread. He was advisor to the Indiana Daily Student for three years and wrote the charter which converted the paper into an independent operation in 1969.
“Professor Holsinger is a tough teacher. He is demanding in writing, editing and law. He expects students to do well, and they respond by becoming his loudest cheerleaders. All over the country are alumni who speak fondly of Professor Holsinger, noting that they use the things he taught them every day. Travel around Indiana, and at paper after paper there are editors and reporters who are Holsinger followers and who are leaders in Hoosier journalism. ”The young Ralph Holsinger did not grow up in Ohio with a desire to be a newspaperman. He majored in economics and political science at Ohio Wesleyan University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was an Army infantryman in World War II and was hospitalized after the war for illness. ”When he got back to Ohio, he found a job on the Pique Daily Call. From there he moved to the Dayton Journal Herald. As he grew in stature as a reporter, he became the Washington correspondent for the paper.
“His career led him back to Ohio and the post of managing editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer. He joined the I.U. journalism faculty in 1965 to teach reporting and editing. In his first year, he commented on how there was quite a bit of emphasis on teaching about libel and press law in the editing course. He soon became fascinated with facets of the law, and when the curriculum was changed in 1969 to make communications law a separate semester-long course, it was Professor Holsinger who decided he would learn to teach it. With some assistance from a law professor, he buried himself in law books and became a self-taught student of the discipline. He soon had a new tough reputation, and it was in the law class. He set the tone for the teaching of communications law throughout our program. He kept getting the message from students and faculty: ‘You should write a law book.’
“The result was his book, ‘Media Law,’ which he is revising. All over the country, students are using his textbook.”
Among those who seconded Ralph’s nomination is Wendell C. Phillippi, retired managing editor of The Indianapolis News, who wrote: “I have long said that he was the best qualified journalism teacher in America.”
James J. Powers, executive editor of The South Bend Tribune, wrote: “Ralph has been a part of the fabric of journalism in this state in a way few other educators can claim. He has not only taught our work, he has done so by demanding a standard of perfection that has benefited every one of his students and every newspaper in the state.”
Ralph also has been active in the Associated Press Managing Editors at the state and national level and has been a lecturer throughout the state on law and writing.
His honors include having received the Teaching Award of the I.U. College of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School Alumni Association and having received the Brown Derby, which is given to the most popular professor on campus.
Ralph has earned a place in the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. We wish him well in his retirement which will commence late this spring.