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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media

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About

Our History

The Edward W. Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media was established at the University of Denver in 2000 to support excellence in journalism. Since then, it has embraced a commitment to democracy through its research initiatives, its awards programs and its outreach and education programs. Its research, education and public programs are designed to foster conversations about the role of media in protecting democratic freedoms among media professionals, those who aspire to be professionals in the field of journalism and members of the public.

The Center had its beginnings in the early 1980s when DU alumnus Edward W. Estlow, a journalist for the Rocky Mountain News who eventually became president and CEO of the E.W. Scripps Co., first joined the DU Board of Trustees. An endowment at the University was established upon his retirement in 1986. Thanks to this fund, the University was pleased to celebrate excellence in journalism by welcoming its first Edward W. Estlow lecturer in 1992. In 1997, the Anvil of Freedom Award was established to recognize the Estlow lecturer's leadership and commitment to the First Amendment, and the two events were combined.

Trio of photos of Ed Estlow and family at DU events

The Center's first Director was Laura Ruel. Under her guidance from 2000 to 2004, Ruel, an educator, designer, and former multimedia journalist, developed the Center's initial strategic plan and established connections between the Center and a host of new media initiatives within the journalism industry, including the SNDies (the Society for News Design). As director of the Estlow Center, she collaborated with Steve Outing and several others at the Poynter Institute and the Eyetools market-research company on the study "Eyetrack III: Online News Consumer Behavior in the Age of Multimedia."

Michael O. Wirth served as the Center's director from 2004 to 2006, during which time he also was  a professor and director of the University of Denver's School of Communication. Under his leadership, the Center established strong connections with Denver's Cable Center, the journalism school at Renmin University in Beijing, China, and Zhejiang University's School of Journalism and Communication in Hangzhou, China, where he served as visiting professor. Under Wirth's guidance, the annual Anvil of Freedom Award and Estlow Lecture became centerpiece events within the annual Summit on Communication at the University of Denver's School of Communication.

Lynn Schofield Clark became the Center's director in September 2006. She serves as both professor and the current chair of DU's Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies. She joined the University of Denver faculty after serving for six years as an assistant research professor at the University of Colorado, where she directed foundation-supported research efforts and assisted in the establishment of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture. A former professional in advocacy journalism, Clark is the author, co-author, editor and co-editor of several books, research reports and research articles.

About Ed Estlow

Black and white headshot of a young Ed EstlowEd Estlow (March 20, 1920 – May 9, 2015) attended the University of Denver from 1939 to 1942, and still holds the school's all-time record for most yards carried in one football game. He became a member of the Board of Trustees in 1976, and he liked to joke that as a University of Denver trustee, he voted against the return of football to the campus because he didn't want his record broken. Now both a University and a journalism legend, Ed first arrived on campus in 1939 with an academic scholarship and $6 in his pocket.

After returning from war in the mid-1940s, Ed started his career in Lovington, New Mexico, as a manager of a small paper where he wrote stories, took photos and drew editorial cartoons. After two years in Lovington, Ed became a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, where he worked his way up to business manager for the newspaper's owners at the time: the E.W. Scripps Co. In 1976 he became the first Scripps-Howard CEO who was not a part of either the Scripps or Howard families. Under Ed's leadership, Scripps-Howard bought 90 percent of its own company so that employees could own shares and benefit more from the newspaper's substantial profitability than other stockholders.

When he retired in 1985, the Scripps company established the E.W. Estlow fund at the University of Denver, which eventually grew into support for the Edward W. and Charlotte I. Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media.

Ed always had a deep appreciation for factual journalism and a deep dislike for the extremely negative reporting that has come to characterize coverage of public officials. He was frustrated by the way that newspaper managers failed to recognize and take advantage of the Internet's potential in the early 1990s, foreseeing its astounding influence. Ed's unique background afforded him incredible insight into both the reporting/editorial and business sides of news. At 95 he still enthralled journalism classes at the University of Denver.

Ed and his amazing wife, Charlotte (1923-2013), had four daughters: Susan Lyday, Nancy Gwin, Mary Erculiani and Sally Baier.