There are classes and there are experiences. Jim Hampton wants to offer his students both.
For 21 years, as the editor of The Miami Herald in charge of the opinion section, Hampton has seen his staff awarded two Pulitzer Prizes, was part of a committee investigating alleged suppressions of the press in three Latin American countries and has been inducted into the University of Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. Now, as USF’s James A. Clendinen Professor in Editorial and Critical Writing, he will relay his life experiences to his students.
“I am going to, first of all, try to be as nonjudgmental as possible,” Hampton said. “I’m going to try (to make it such) that my students never know what my point of view is on any given issue. I want to hear their point of view and I don’t care what it is as long as it’s responsible.”
His course, centering on critical and editorial writing, columns and reviews, will begin on Jan. 24 and will last exactly one month, comprising ten class sessions total. But students will be expected to continue working on an assigned essay on their own. Throughout the duration of the course, students will also be expected to meet with Hampton for personal direction.
“My principal objective is to teach (my students) how to write — in a little under five weeks,” Hampton said. “During each class session we will have an editorial board meeting where each student is to suggest two topics to write for next class.”
The Clendinen professorship honors James A. Clendinen, who worked for The Tampa Tribune for 50 years and held editorial positions including the chairman of the editorial board.
The Clendinen professors are chosen by Edward J. Friedlander, the director of the School of Mass Communications, and Rosemary Goudreau, the editor of The Tampa Tribune’s editorial page. Friedlander said Hampton was chosen out of approximately 10 applicants.
“The initial review is made by the editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune,” Friedlander said. “She gets all of the files. (Later), she and I get together and decide on a first- and second-choice candidate.”
Hampton was the first choice for this spring.
“The primary reason, from my perspective, as to why he was chosen is his long and distinguished career here in Florida,” Friedlander said. “This is the first time we have a finalist in Florida.”
Hampton will be the sixth Clendinen professor. The honorary professorship started in 1999, but last year was skipped due to financial reasons, Friedlander said.
Hampton said he applied for the professorship after receiving an email informing him of it.
“I applied and got three people fairly well-known in journalism to send in letters of recommendation,” Hampton said. “(By a) stroke of luck, on Thanksgiving Day, I got an email from Jay Friedlander saying, ‘We have chosen you, we hope you accept.’ (I replied that) it was the best Thanksgiving I ever had.”