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College names new interim head of journalism department

2/14/2011  1:30 pm

Jan Slater, interim dean of the College of Media, announced today that Journalism Professor Rich Martin has accepted the position of interim head of the Department of Journalism, effective immediately. Martin will replace Brian Johnson, who has elected to return to teaching and facilitating the department’s multimedia labs after serving as department head since August 2010.

"I am grateful to Rich for stepping into this interim position in order to keep the department moving forward,” said Slater in an email to the College community. “I am confident in his abilities and look forward to working with him."

Since joining the journalism faculty in 2004 to teach reporting courses, Martin has organized and participated in the first three Knight-Illinois Investigative Reporting Workshops for journalists from small and medium-sized papers around Illinois.

Along with Brant Houston, the Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting in the Department of Journalism, Martin founded and directs the CU-Citizen Access project, which reports on economic and social issues in Champaign County. The project is backed with funding from the Marajen Stevick Foundation, the University of Illinois, and the John S. Knight and James L. Knight Foundation. Its website offers a place for citizens, journalists, and university students to share news, raise and discuss issues, find assistance, and suggest solutions.

Martin came to the University of Illinois with 32 years of newspaper experience as both reporter and editor. During his tenure at The Roanoke Times in Virginia, he edited projects that were finalists three times for Pulitzer Prizes. He also supervised work that won a George Polk Award, a National Headliners Award, Southern Journalism awards, and numerous state awards for reporting and writing.

"Rich's management experience from his newspaper days gives him some ideal qualifications for providing leadership in the department," said Slater.

Martin is currently working on a book about journalism principles and values for Holcomb Hathaway Publishers. He is an ex-officio member of the board of directors for the Illinois Press Association and a faculty member of the Illini Media Board.

In an email to the College faculty and staff, Slater thanked Johnson for his dedication to the department and remarked on his integral role in developing the journalism multimedia course.

Slater confirmed that an internal search for a permanent head will be conducted soon.

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