CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Jerry Dunklee

Jerry Dunklee has been a broadcaster and professor for 45 years.  32 of those years have been in Connecticut.

Jerry worked at WELI Radio in New Haven as a talk show host for more than 7 years.  During that time his number-one rated evening show delved into topics as wide-ranging as nuclear power to Broadway musicals.  He interviewed over 6-thousand people at WELI.  He has also filled in as a talk host at WPOP in Hartford and WICC in Bridgeport.  Jerry also worked in New York and Boston during his news and talk career.

He started teaching full time in 1985 at Southern Connecticut State University.  He has taught thousands of students, many of whom have become career journalists.  His students were involved in two major studies of compliance with FOI law at the state and local level.  Both studies resulted in national news coverage and more focus on how agencies actually deal with FOI. He, under the mentoring of the late Robin Glassman, led the Journalism Department for nine years.

Jerry has been president, vice president and ethics chair of Connecticut SPJ.  Over the years he created dozens of workshops and panels in the state dealing with FOI, Free Press/Fair Trial, Ethics and Investigative Journalism.

He has fought for student First Amendment rights at both the college and high school level.

Jerry has been a member of the National Ethics Committee of SPJ since 1994 and helped write the current Code of Ethics.

He has two grown children, Brady and Caitlin.  Brady started a charity to help poor children in Nicaragua and Caitlin works in prison reform in New York.

He served in the Army from 1966 to 1968 as a member of the Bomb Squad.

He just completed his 25th year at Southern.

Dunklee was inducted in 2010. Below is his acceptance speech:

When the late Robin Marshall-Glassman and I started talking about creating a Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame many years ago the last thing I ever considered was being a member of this extraordinary group.  As most of you know, Robin was one of our first inductees for her remarkable writing and her dedication to the craft of journalism.  Her selfless toil for several generations of journalists was inspiring.  She was my mentor and friend.  And any light shone on me, and many others in the room tonight, is reflected from her brilliant, still-beaming beacon.  Thank you Robin.

Journalism is essential to our way of life.  Democracy cannot thrive without your daily efforts to reveal our world and educate readers, listeners and viewers.  Ethical, informed journalism is the food and drink of effective self-government.  Absent this menu of news and views we will become anorexic and susceptible to fear and the deleterious effects of ignorance.   We have been enduring hard times.  Some say quality journalism cannot survive.  I don’t believe that.  I believe your hard work matters.  And I hope you fight on.

When Cindy Simoneau told me I, and the others honored here tonight, had been selected to enter the Hall of Fame I was, to say the least, surprised.

She said, ”We wanted to honor you guys while you’re still alive to enjoy it.”

As you all know, journalists are only as good as their last story.

While I’m still kickin’ I hope there are still a few stories in me…and some ways of communicating to the general public the value of what you do in their lives.

I am deeply honored to be considered worthy of this distinction.

 

 

 

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