Hi-tech reporting: Pounding the keys of a typewrwiter, Phyllis Herman composes her story.
Writing and gathering information are skills that shaped two alumni from The University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, setting the path for their futures and beliefs.
Phyllis Herman (B.A. 1949) and Jerry Hargitt (B.A. 1965) both continue to donate to the University of Iowa Foundation after 50 years because they highly value their time spent at the university.
Her freshman year of college, Herman moved from New York City to Iowa City as World War I was ending. Working as a reporter and photographer for The Daily Iowan, she had the honor of working for Margaret Bourke White who was doing a Life magazine feature on the return of GIs to campus.
Eventually becoming photo editor for the paper, Herman won an award for a news photo she took at Lake McBride in Iowa City.
“Working on a newspaper was my favorite—the skills and experience I learned taught me to see the big picture. I became more aware of everything,” Herman said.
She also said she cherishes the friends and education she gained, which is why she wants to give back to the School.
Hargitt also worked for the DI, and eventually became Assistant Editor of Sports Information for the athletic department. Between his junior and senior years he worked on editing a weekly letter press while he was in the army in Korea. He said this experience and the interviewing and newspaper work he learned were the most important skills he picked up in college.
Journalistic principles: Jerry Hargitt encourages students to apply principles and ethics.
“Curiosity is the most important characteristic,” Hargitt said. “Asking good questions and being patient enough to listen for good answers are also important.”
He hopes his contributions have helped students learn in a better environment. While Hargitt was at the University, he worked on the newspaper in the basement of East Hall where there was poor lighting and eminent fire danger.
Both alumni are retired now, and though they followed paths that weren’t directly associated with journalism, the skills they learned strengthened all the jobs they held.
“Writing clearly and knowing how to find information are always helpful in any situation,” Herman said. She has worked with editing magazines, teaching, and managing an office for a family business.
Hargitt worked for a telephone company, eventually joining the company’s magazine staff. Later he joined a consulting company that helped small businesses grow in foreign countries, once again using old journalistic techniques of interviewing and processing information.
Hargitt and Herman both want to see students employ the journalism principles and ethics they learned in the program.
Herman said she wants students to be aware of everything they can read, to try to understand diverse viewpoints, though there are fewer and fewer publications with different slants. She encouraged students to always go in depth with research because she said you have to know more than you’re ever going to put on paper, and you have to give readers every side to let them make up their minds.
Hargitt agreed with Herman’s objectivity, stating that opinions are injected in news stories too much these days. He also criticized the increased emphasis on expose reporting rather than reporting for regular news stories, which are important too.
Both said to make the most of your experiences.
“Enjoy yourself—write as much as you can,” Hargitt said, “ask questions and listen. And maybe not in that order.”