on the way to the sesquicentennial
In Retrospect |
learning laboratory to teach students the enduring values of journal-
ism and its vital role in American democracy, not to mention on the
Wake Forest campus.
His teaching tools were simple. He offered a few basic classes in
journalism, and he was the faculty adviser for the Old Gold & Black,
the school’s venerable weekly newspaper. I remember well my first
day in his intro to journalism course. Bynum stood before us, intro-
duced himself softly, leaned back against his desk, and starting talk-
ing, a stack of yellowed index cards in his hand. For the first few
minutes of every class, he paid attention to the first card or two, but,
rather quickly, he found himself veering off-course and forgetting
the lessons inscribed on the cards. He would, instead, start talking
about the latest scoop on the front page of The New York Times. Or
how The Winston-Salem Journal had covered a local story. Or he’d
begin telling war stories about his work as a foreign correspondent
or what really happened inside the Sun’s newsroom. Needless to say,
we favored the stories over the note cards, and his tales taught us
more than any textbook ever could.
Bynum wisely—and, no doubt, somewhat surreptitiously—used
his courses as a quiet recruiting ground, too. He lured quite a few of
us into the next level of journalism by persuading us to report and
write for the Old Gold & Black. That’s where a handful of us discov-
ered the electric jolt of adrenaline that came with engaging our curi-
osity and racing to meet a deadline. Once that happened, he had us
hooked. I became so addicted, in fact, that Bynum was able to con-
vince me to become editor of the OG&B during my senior year, a
job that meant, I later learned, that I’d give shortshrift to my official
courses and pour almost all my energy into the newspaper. In retro-
spect, it was the best choice I could’ve made, and I learned more in
that post than in almost any other single venture at Wake.
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