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Dan Reimold - photo from College Media Matters

RIP Student Media Advocate Dan Reimold

After publishing College Radio Watch on Friday, I was shocked to hear the news that Dan Reimold had died. I was a huge fan of Dan’s work and felt like he was a kindred spirit, with his passion and advocacy for student media. Dan was an assistant professor of journalism at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and also served as the advisor for student newspaper, the Hawk.

I first learned of Dan’s work in 2010 when he approached me while working on a series for his blog, College Media Matters. In his introductory email to me, he said, “My name is Dan Reimold. I’m an impassioned college journalism scholar who has written and presented about the student press throughout the U.S. and in SE Asia. I currently run College Media Matters (CMM), a daily blog focused on student journalism that is now affiliated with the Associated Collegiate Press.”

After checking out his blog, I realized that we were both doing similar work, as far as bringing to light stories about student media. While he was more focused on student press, I have spent my time fixated on student radio. Dan realized that there was crossover and he would periodically write about stories related to college radio. In fact, when he first got in touch with me, he was working on a feature spotlighting influential people in the world of student media, including college radio.

As a former student journalist myself (I was Feature Editor of my high school newspaper and it was a seminal experience for me), I have a deep appreciation for the importance of student press and I’m forever indebted to my former newspaper adviser. He helped us to appreciate not only the power of student media, but also the responsibility we had to cover issues that mattered to our fellow students. We broke stories, infuriated administrators, and probably pissed off classmates. All the while, we learned about our rights and about the freedoms that we enjoyed as student journalists in the United States.

I know that it can’t be easy for newspaper advisers, who must uphold the first amendment, but also have to answer to a boss (whether it’s a school principal or a department head or a school board) who may not be happy about some of the stories that students want to investigate and publish. Things have gotten even tougher following a 1988 Supreme Court decision, which gave principals more leeway in censoring high school newspaper stories.

Dan Reimold was deeply committed to these issues and was a tireless supporter of student media, evangelizing the power of the student press on his blog College Media Matters, on his podcast, in webinars (he was supposed to host one today), on social media, and in print. It was a treat to see him in person last year and we had a great chat about college radio. I also enjoyed talking to him about how student newspapers can be a vital part of college radio history projects, as it’s one of the few places (along with yearbooks), where stories about college radio are documented. On the day we met, I’d spent hours in my alma mater’s special collections, combing through student newspapers from the 1920s.

It saddens me that our lunch back in May, 2014 was the last time that I got to see Dan in person. His voice and work will be sorely missed. I’ll also miss having him as a colleague and as a resource, as he’s the first person that I think of when a college radio story breaks that touches on issues related to freedom of speech.

I think it’s fitting that Dan concluded the biography on his blog with his six-word memoir: Dream Big. Create. Learn. Teach. Repeat.

No doubt many have already been inspired by Dan’s work to do just that.

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