His significance to journalism is so intertwined with his craft that April 18, the day he died in the South Pacific, is the day recognized in the industry as National Columnist Day — a day to toast what Ernie Pyle did for journalism and we all should do remember his contributions. Apparently that designation didn’t make the desk calendars in McRobbie’s office.
They don’t make movies about bloggers. They made one about Ernie Pyle, who won a Pulitzer Prize. Think how many journalists you’ve watched on television, heard on radio newscasts or read about from foreign bylines. How many of them you knew ever died on the job? Ernie did, and he didn’t have to die. He wasn’t drafted. He was just an American trying to do an American thing for the It should be noted, as IU alum Jim Stinson reported last week, that IU journalism grads can claim another 33 Pulitzer Prizes as well. McRobbie and IU trustees may be slamming the door that opened many doors for Indiana journalists.
Why IU apparently doesn’t want to claim Pyle as its most prestigious journalism alum any longer is a mystery, but not unusal in an era when universities are eager to strip names off buildings and schools so that a wealthy donor can write a check and get a tax write-off from the self-aggrandizing validation of seeing their name on a college building.
It’s not unusual to give up on a successful program. Just a few years ago, Northwestern University closed its dental school. It wasn’t done because people don’t need dentists anymore. It simply wasn’t cost effective for a private university to operate. But what’s cost effective and what’s a public responsibility are not necessarily the same things in public universities as they are in private schools. Can you imagine IU dumping its dental school? I can’t. As a state university, it has a public responsibility to teach people to be dentists. Closing that school would be a matter that should be taken seriously. Eliminating the Pyle name from the IU journalism school should be taken, at the least, more seriously.