The professorial instructor is officially inaugurated as head of world’s leading professional organization for journalists.
January 27, 2014
During an illustrious 42-year career with The Associated Press, School of Media and Public Affairs Professorial Instructor Myron Belkind has reported on historical events around the world, covering Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the British Royals from the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana to her death in 1997.
With decades of experience strapped under his belt, the seasoned reporter and former AP bureau chief was elected president of the National Press Club on Dec. 13 and was formally inaugurated during a gala on Saturday. The club was founded in 1908 and provides training programs, social events and networking opportunities to its 3,000 members from journalism and communications professions. Mr. Belkind is the first president with a four-decade international career, which he hopes will help his goal of enhancing the NPC’s reputation as a global media center.
Attendees at Saturday’s official inauguration gala included SMPA Director Frank Sesno, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Vinson III, Graduate School of Political Management Director Mark Kennedy and other GW colleagues and students. The celebration also featured the GW Indian Students Association, whose members welcomed guests, and the award-winning GW Bhangra Troupe dancers.
“I’m honored personally to be president of the National Press Club, and I want to share that honor with the George Washington University because it’s at GW where I’ve had my second very fulfilling career as a teacher,” Mr. Belkind said.
As an undergraduate at Ohio State University, Mr. Belkind was editor of the student newspaper, the Lantern. George J. Kienzle, the director of the journalism department at Ohio State, urged him to get a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism so that he could one day teach—a promise he fulfilled 44 years later when he began teaching at GW in 2005. Mr. Belkind said his teaching career was delayed because while at Columbia, he received a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, which launched his international career.
Mr. Belkind worked for The Associated Press from 1962 to 2004, managing bureaus in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo. He described the most challenging assignment of his career as covering the state of emergency that Prime Minister Gandhi imposed from 1975 to 1977, when she severely limited press access for domestic and international correspondents.
Once, Mr. Belkind said he was summoned to the chief censor’s office in New Delhi and was warned against publishing stories based on false rumors.
Mr. Belkind told the chief sensor, “Accuracy is essential and paramount to the AP, and if I ever violate its standards, the Indian government will expel me, but the AP will fire me.”
“I am pleased to say we were able to get through the emergency and maintain our professional standards,” Mr. Belkind said.
After India, Mr. Belkind was put in charge of the AP’s London bureau. He felt a need to strengthen the AP’s radio service, and he asked the AP to send him an outstanding broadcast journalist.
“They sent me Frank Sesno,” he said. “Frank likes to call me his first boss. I find it really touching that Frank and I worked together early in our careers when we were devoted to being on the frontlines of journalism, and now we work together at GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs.”
Mr. Belkind returned to Washington, D.C., in 2004. It was at the NPC that a colleague suggested he teach at GW. Mr. Belkind has taught the Introduction to News Writing and Reporting for SMPA since 2005, and he also has taught Advanced Writing since 2011 for the distance-learning programs in GSPM.
In his opening lectures each semester, Mr. Belkind impresses upon students that writing and communication skills are crucial to their future careers. He believes the experience he has gained working with GW students and teaching journalism will help him in his new role as president of the NPC.
“A very important mission of the National Press Club relates to its professional development programs, and I hope that my teaching in both SMPA and GSPM will enable me to provide some direction in that area,” he said.