Journalism professor David Swartzlander was formally inducted into the College Media Association’s John A. Boyd Hall of Fame on Nov. 1, in Washington, D.C., at the National College Media Convention.
“This is truly an exclusive club, with fewer than 40 members being inducted in the past quarter-century,” CMA President Chris Evans said in an article posted by the CMA. “These are advisors who have served our organization in countless ways. They are genuine leaders in the profession.”
Swartzlander, or more commonly known as Swartz to students and colleagues, has worked at Doane for 22 years and advises the Doane Owl newspaper, 1014 Magazine and Doaneline.
Swartz has served as president of Nebraska’s Collegiate Media Association as well as other positions including vice president, professional development chair and research committee chair.
He won the Leadership Nebraska Award presented by the Nebraska Press Association for taking his students to cover five presidential inaugurations in Washington, D.C.
Swartz wrote the instructor’s manual to Tim Harrower’s “Inside Reporting” textbook.
He also edited the book, “Unforgettable: The Photos of Our Lives” for the Lincoln Journal Star.
“I never got into journalism for awards, I got into journalism because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of some people,” Swartz said. “You can change the world for a certain number of people as a journalist.”
Although Swartz has had an impressive career as a journalist reporting for daily newspapers in Ohio, Florida, New York and Nebraska, he said that he loves teaching because he gets to work with students.
Swartz’s dedication to student news organizations was prominent in his first few years at Doane College. He started as an adjunct professor in 1998 teaching two sections of basic news writing while also reporting for the Lincoln Journal Star, previously the Lincoln Journal.
He would go to work at the Journal Star in the morning, come to Doane to teach his two sections at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then go back to finish his job at the newspaper.
Swartz’s weekends were filled with grading stories from students.
In the spring of 1999, the position of advisor for the Doane Owl became available and the college needed a full-time journalism professor.
Swartz quit working at the Journal Star and filled in, unsure of the future since Doane expressed that they were going to put out a national search for the position.
Doane never advertised.
Swartz filled the position permanently.
His knowledge of and passion for journalism has been vital to the careers of many of his former students including Cole Bauer and Bayley Bischoff, who both work in news organizations in Nebraska.
“He really cares about his students. Unlike some professors, he is less concerned about grades, he is more concerned about if you learn something,” Cole Bauer said, Doane University graduate and former editor-in-chief of the Doane Owl. “The passion that he has for journalism reignited my own when I was in classes with him and that is still there today.
Bauer said one thing that has stuck with him since graduating in May and now carries on as he works at the Norfolk Daily News is the competitiveness to always want to improve that Swartz instilled in his students.
Bayley Bischoff is a reporter for 1011 News and focuses on crime and investigative reporting which matches her crime and public safety beat that Swartz assigned to her during her sophomore year.
“I truly couldn’t imagine my college education without Swartz,” Bischoff said. “He knew that sitting around reading textbooks wasn’t going to get us where we needed to be so early on I was writing articles for the newspaper and actually reporting.”
Bischoff was taught at Waverly High School by two Doane College graduates who were also taught my Swartz and she says that when she thinks back at her time at Doane she thinks of two things - her sorority and Swartz.
She graduated in 2017 but still uses his approach of not competing against someone else, but instead competing with herself to be better than the previous day.
“I still cringe when I hear someone uses the phrase ‘over’ instead of ‘more than’ because even though AP (Associated Press) says it’s okay now, Swartz said it wasn’t,” Bischoff said.
Swartz’s passion for not only teaching, but journalism results in unwavering support for students and students’ rights, especially in the newsroom. Swartz has the back of every student journalist, because whenever anyone tried to prevent the Doane Owl from pushing boundaries , he reminded us why it was important, why we hold people accountable and why it is worth the trouble, Bischoff said.
“My reward is knowing I’ve done the best I can to inform the readers of what is going on or that I’ve done the best I can to teach students how to do that,” Swartz said.
Swartz was nominated for the Hall of Fame by good friend and director of student media at Vanderbilt University Chris Carroll, who is also a Hall of Fame inductee.
“The John A. Boyd Hall of Fame Award is the most prestigious honor given by CMA, recognizing longtime members whose dedication, commitment and sacrifice have contributed to the betterment and value of student media programs of both their campus and the nation,” a CMA article announcing the inductees stated.
To be considered for this award, nominees must have contributed to college journalism education for 20 years or more while being an active member of the CMA.