Remembering Bryan Monroe, journalism professor and icon

The Editor-in-Chief and Digital Managing Editor mourn the loss of their journalism professor, who died yesterday.

Bryan Monroe speaks during the Temple DNC News course at Temple University Center City on July 19, 2016. | RYAN BRANDENBERG / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Bryan Monroe, a journalism professor, died of a heart attack at 55 at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, on Wednesday, CNN reported

Monroe’s journalism class was not an easy one. Listening to how he dissected and explained landmark Supreme Court cases to his students, a casual observer might think they were sitting in on a law school lecture rather than an undergraduate media law and ethics class.

But despite the difficulty of the material, he would take whatever class time was needed to make sure every student understood the nuances of their First Amendment rights. Monroe was fair and made a conscious effort to engage with his students. He didn’t want to spend all of class time lecturing: it was important to him to hear what his students had to say. In debating ethical scenarios in journalism, he would circle around the room and ask every student for their opinion, allowing no one to escape from making their stance known. 

An icon of the journalism industry, he demonstrated tremendous poise in leadership and crucial reporting. He took his extensive resume with credentials as the former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, former editorial director of Ebony and Jet Magazine, former editor of and work that led to a 2006 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service at the Biloxi Sun Herald, and he made himself available as a mentor and friend to the hundreds of students he taught. He was notorious for always offering a story of his reporting or editing as a class example, and would often dig out his old clips or interview recordings to play for students. More so, if he didn’t have an example to share, he would call or bring in his industry friends from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, California, to speak with his class.

“He was a leader in the print and digital industry,” the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists wrote in a Facebook post yesterday, noting Monroe’s accomplishment of being the first to interview former President Barack Obama after winning the 2008 presidential election and the last to interview Michael Jackson before he died. “Bryan was ahead of his time.” 

Monroe would frequently talk about his time as a student newspaper editor when he attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate. He would discuss everything from the after-hours grind to the ads he would publish and where his former colleagues were now. He encouraged us as student journalists to ask hard questions, pursue the stories that felt out of reach, and when the COVID-19 pandemic began, to band together as student journalists and cover the pandemic’s effects on our campus communities.

In an email notifying students at the Klein College of Media and Communication of Monroe’s death, Dean David Boardman called him a “wonderful and loyal friend” and a “caring, dedicated teacher.”

“Helping bring Bryan to Temple was a point of great joy and pride for me, and he absolutely loved our college, our university, our students and his Klein colleagues,” Boardman wrote.

We send our condolences to his fiancee Abrielle, his son Jackson and his daughter Seanna, a student in the College of Science and Technology.

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