Shaping The Future Of Journalism
Aug. 25, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
When Hal F. Foster Jr. served as the Warner Professor of Journalism at Sam Houston State University from 1998-2000, he helped influence aspiring young journalists through the editing and writing courses he taught as well as serving as advisor to the student newspaper, The Houstonian.
Foster started out in journalism while earning his bachelor’s at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and editing and writing at the Omaha World-Herald. Awarded a Freedom Forum Foundation Fellowship for a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, enabled him to marry his passion for journalism with teaching, and he taught the nuts and bolts of writing, editing, and journalism ethics at universities in the U.S., Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
While Foster enjoyed helping numerous students launch their professions into the field of news media during his impressive 53-year career, he likely didn’t realize the lasting impact his work would have well beyond his life.
Since Foster’s passing in 2020, his son, Daniel Foster, decided to honor his father’s memory and passion to shape the future of journalism through a newly established scholarship endowment. The Hal Foster Scholarship Award at SHSU was created to inspire students to follow in Foster’s example of impeccable integrity and ethics in journalism while pursuing the craft of writing, editing and informing the public objectively.
“The fellowships my father received were foundational to his teaching career and to the independent manner he lived,” Daniel said. “They inspired me to establish a scholarship endowment in his honor, because I saw the direct impact scholarships have. I also hope students will be encouraged by what my father's life and career demonstrate—that with hard work, determination, and creativity, there are nearly limitless—and often unexpected—opportunities and adventures that await us in this world.”
In addition to making an impact in the classroom for years as a professor at several universities, Hal Foster was known for his reporting and editing work across the globe including as: business editor/writer for Los Angeles Times, executive editor at Pacific Stars and Stripes and special correspondent for USA Today.
Major stories he covered during his career include: the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Soviet shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan, and cult Aum Shinrikyo's gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
This semester, Scott Morris, a senior mass communications major at SHSU, was selected as the first recipient of the Hal Foster Scholarship Award. Serving as editor in chief of The Houstonian, the same student paper Foster once advised, Morris said he has forever wanted to be a journalist and tell stories.
“For as long as I can remember I have always liked learning and asking questions,” Morris said. “With the journalism field, I am able to continue that lifelong learning journey because that's what journalism is—learning and spreading information to a mass of people, so they are able to also learn.”
Planning to graduate in May of 2022, Morris hopes to professionally work in either feature writing or investigative journalism. He is pleased to know this new support, helping him through the last stretch in earning his degree, was motivated by a veteran newsperson who was just as zealous for the industry as he is today.
“It really gives me hope that the field of journalism can be shared with all walks of life,” Morris said. “Journalism is an ongoing machine that impacts everyone, so to receive this help from a fellow journalist, to help continue my life goals, means a lot.”
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