Journalism at Marquette: A Brief History

The Yellow Journalism period in the early 20th Century marked an ethical low point in U.S. news reporting. Exaggeration, sensationalism and misinformation were common media practices of the time. Inaccurate reporting coupled with imperialism to incite the Spanish-American War, a conflict that left lasting implications and numerous casualties in the wake of its short but disastrous span.

John Copus, a journalist at the Detroit Evening News, quit the profession as a reaction against yellow journalism. Copus viewed such practices as unethical and immoral. His journalistic interest and pursuit of truth led Copus to join the Society of Jesus.

Remaining a strong proponent of journalism, Father Copus set out to use the Jesuit traditions of education and morality to bring a strong ethical tradition back to the profession. He chose Marquette University’s urban campus to plant the seeds of his idea, and in 1910, the first journalism program at any Catholic university was launched.

The Journalism School was originally housed in the College of Economics until it separated in 1915. Still going strong today, the program is the product of the many influential people at Marquette who have helped define it. The Journalism program has also benefitted from technological advances over the past century, and Marquette University is dedicated to providing the resources as the profession continues to evolve into the 21st century and beyond.