Contact: Victoria Winkelman
SMU Meadows School of the Arts
(214) 768-3785

December 13, 2001


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DALLAS (SMU) -- Chris Peck, editor of The Spokesman-Review, the award-winning daily newspaper in Spokane, Washington, will become the Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, effective in January 2002.

In making the announcement today, Meadows School Dean Carole Brandt said, “The appointment of Mr. Peck has been unanimously and enthusiastically embraced by the search committee, the faculty and the students. He brings professionally important experience, personal qualities highly respected by colleagues, and visionary and passionate determination to the journalism program and SMU. “

Ralph Langer, executive-in-residence and interim chair of the Division of Journalism at SMU and retired editor and executive vice president of The Dallas Morning News, said, “I have known Chris Peck for more than 20 years, during which he has emerged as an industry leader and someone who crafted his organization into a nationally known and respected newspaper. He has the experience, vision and thoughtfulness to lead the program into a creative and expanding future.”

Peck has been editor since 1982 of The Spokesman-Review, which has the largest circulation -- 140,000 -- of any newspaper between Seattle and Minneapolis. Under Peck’s leadership, the paper has garnered a long list of honors and awards. It was named one of the “top 25 best newspapers in America” by the Columbia Journalism Review and “best designed newspaper in the world” for three years in a row by the Society of News Design. It also won an award for “best use of pictures” for four years straight from the National Press Photographers Association, and was voted one of the “top 10 daily sports sections” by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Peck also has taken an active leadership role in the media industry. In 2001, he served as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors, one of two national editors’ associations. As president, he developed national research projects on key industry issues and organized training conferences for editors. He also founded the national Credibility Roundtable Project with newspapers in all 50 states, funded by a grant he acquired from the Ford Foundation. In addition, he has served as editor of The American Editor, the monthly journal of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and as a juror for such major journalism awards as the Pulitzer Prize, Scripps-Howard Awards and Livingston Award.

In accepting the appointment as Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism, Peck said he was drawn to the commitment of both SMU and the Belo Foundation to build one of the leading journalism programs in the country.

“I am honored to be part of SMU's plan for the growth of its Division of Journalism,” Peck said. “This is a rare opportunity to help a quality institution build a program that will serve students and the media at a critical juncture for journalism.

“The next generation of journalists must be worldly, well-educated and able to work in a converging media world of print, broadcast and online,” Peck added. “I am excited about the resources available to help SMU's graduates become well prepared for this emerging new world of journalism.''

Peck has substantial experience in academia, having taught university courses as well as seminars and workshops on journalism throughout the country. He has served on the faculty of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the University of Southern California, and the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications at Washington State University, among others. He has also lectured regularly at the University of Idaho, Eastern Washington University and other colleges in the northwest.

Peck received his B.A. from Stanford University in 1972 and graduated from the NMC Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University in 1999.

The Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism carries a $2 million endowment, part of a $5 million gift made earlier this year to SMU by the Belo Foundation to expand the university’s journalism program. The remaining $3 million of the gift, which was the largest donation in the foundation’s history, will go toward a digital newsroom and a television studio on campus, along with a Web site. The Belo Foundation is the philanthropic organization of Dallas-based Belo Corporation, whose extensive media ownerships include The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV.

“SMU has taken another large step forward with the selection of such a distinguished journalist to lead its program,” said Burl Osborne, chair of the Belo Foundation and retired publisher of The Dallas Morning News. “Chris will bring the energy, intellect and well-grounded principles of the best journalism that can make SMU’s program one of the best anywhere.”