Aug. 22 marks new era for journalism at IU

The Media School Report • Aug. 22, 2016
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Professors emeriti Cleve Wilhoit, left, and David Weaver admire the carving over the entrance to Ernie Pyle Hall. This is the first semester since 1958 that journalism students won’t study in the building. (Courtesy Victoria Voelker)

This report is by professor emeritus Cleve Wilhoit.

Thirty eight thousand “unique visitors.”

In the parlance of digital media audience measurement, that’s about how many have passed under the stone-carved “JOURNALISM” over the front doors of Ernie Pyle Hall since the department of journalism, the IDS and the printing plant first occupied it in 1954.

Unique they were, but not visitors. They were cherished students, and about 8,500 of them were mine, over a 36-year career as a “prof.”

With the coming rededication of Franklin Hall and the exciting new home of journalism in the Media School, the venerable stone carving on Pyle Hall takes on special significance.  It is so important that Thomas Morrison, IU’s head of capital planning and facilities, says it will be preserved on Ernie Pyle Hall as part of the university’s historical architecture.

typography symbols
On the left is the double dagger, a typography symbol. Wilhoit still is working on identifying the one on the right. (Courtesy Victoria Voelker)

Monday, Aug. 22, the first day of fall classes, is the first time IU journalism students no longer entered Pyle Hall and, instead, enjoyed the dazzling new digs of the renovated Franklin Hall.  To mark the day, David Weaver, distinguished professor emeritus; Victoria Voelker, a Bloomington graphic artist and photographer; and I stopped by the old building for a nostalgic look at the stone carvings that have meant so much to so many

While there, the two ornate carvings of images high above the Pyle Hall doors especially caught our eye.  None of us knew what they meant, but a call to Marjorie Blewett, retired placement officer of journalism and keeper of Pyle Hall memories, revealed some of their significance.  The carvings are of typography symbols and likely were inspired by the late John Stempel, the legendary chair of journalism at the time.

Ernie Pyle Hall
The building will retain its name. (Courtesy Victoria Voelker)

One of the typography images looks a bit like an artistic rendering of the double dagger, meaning another footnote.  For sure, the rich, century-long tradition of IU journalism will be infinitely more than “another footnote” in the promising future of the IU Media School.