Friday, April 23, 2010

Local Legend Ray Hiebert Honored with Room in Maryland School of Journalism


Ray Hiebert finally retired from the University of Maryland where he is a professor emeritus and was founding dean of the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He was honored at the university the other night before the new school of journalism building was dedicated and a room inside was named after Ray. We don't believe it was the water closet but were told it was the new International Journalism room.

Ray, as he is known to locals, is yet another in the long line of international celebrities to seek asylum and solitude in Coltons Point, Maryland, the 365 year old little fishing village on the banks of the Potomac and home to the largest concentration of participants in the federal witness protection program in America.

A writer, editor, teacher, researcher, specialist in international communications and international chess champion, this master communicator and his wife, the renowned Sheila Gibbons. also an international journalism superstar, have taken their messages of freedom of the press and women's stuff on globe trotting careers.

Ray is a California native who gave up surfing to earn a BA, MS, MA and Phd in demanding schools like Stanford, Columbia University and the University of Maryland. Among other prominent jobs as a reporter he worked for the Washington Post back when they were the pride of American journalism. He left the Post and moved to the Watergate in Washington in time to allow Woodward and Bernstein to be hired and win a Pulitzer Prize for the Nixon shenanigans at the same Watergate.

An academic advisor to the Voice of America where he founded the International Communications Training Center, you might say he played a key role in helping to bring down the Soviet empire during the Reagan years by planting those seeds of freedom through the VOA in Eastern Europe.

His storied career and silver tongue took him to China, Africa (15 countries), Asia, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean (4 countries), Soviet Union, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Japan, South Korea, France, Philippines, Liberia, South Africa, Algiers, Amsterdam, Leipzig, Tehran, Iran, Dubai, Hong Kong and Southern Maryland to mention a few of his third world travels. Why he is so traveled you could spin the globe and wherever it stopped he's probably been there.

Often described as wiser than Solomon, smarter than Jefferson, wittier than Twain, more conciliatory than Lincoln, more philosophical than Plato and thinner than Franklin, this true renaissance man has earned a world of friends and tons of respect from some of the most respectable people in the world. That is a testament to the character, principles and qualities of Ray.

He is co-author of several important texts, including Mass Media (Longman, 6th edition, 1991) and Exploring Mass Media (Erlbaum, 2000). He is editor of Impact of Mass Media (Longman, 4th edition, 1998), Precision Public Relations (Longman, 1988) and The Press in Washington (Dodd, Mead, 1966). He is co-editor of Issues in International Communication (Longman, 1989), Media Now (Longman, 1985), Informing the People (Longman, 1979), Political Image Merchants (Acropolis, 2nd edition, 1976), and The Voice of Government (John Wiley & Sons, 1968).

He is also the author of four biographies, including Courtier to the Crowd: The Story of Ivy Lee (Iowa State University Press, 1966), and editor since 1975 of the Public Relations Review, a critical research journal.

Now a wily old captain of the high seas Ray runs around the world giving speeches, accepting awards and writing books and articles on history, biography, journalism, public relations, public affairs, and mass media. Recently he took the time to be the voice of history as narrator in the highly acclaimed video history of St. Clements Island and Lighthouse, a film that tells the true story of the founding of Maryland and religious freedom in America.

His ability to communicate with anybody anywhere was great preparation for his greatest communication challenge which is staying home and trying to communicate with the strange assortment of characters in Southern Maryland and researching how the 7th District has been able to reject government of any kind for 365 years while still remaining part of the USA.

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