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Commentary: Letter to the Editor

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Richardson

To the editor:

I would like to provide some context to the article that ran on the Times-Delphic website on Oct. 26 regarding the pending sale of Meredith Corporation, the Des Moines-based media giant that is a longtime professional partner of the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication. There are many reasons to be confident that this mutually beneficial relationship will not only continue but thrive under the new company, Dotdash Meredith.

The Drake-Meredith partnership is over 100 years old; Meredith executives were instrumental in the founding of journalism education at Drake in 1919. The first dean of the new School of Journalism in 1962 was a former Meredith editor, Hugh Curtis. Gifts from the Meredith family and corporation funded the creation of Meredith Hall in 1965, and will contribute to the building’s rejuvenation in 2022. The E.T. Meredith Center for Magazine Studies at Drake provides resources for both researchers and journalism students, and brings in visiting professionals to address issues of public concern. Patricia Prijatel, the E.T. Meredith Distinguished Professor, was a former Meredith employee who partnered with the company to create what has become arguably the strongest academic magazine program in the country.

The 18-year-old Meredith Apprenticeship in Service Journalism provides hands-on experience for a cohort of student journalists, designers, data analysts and computer scientists. The apprenticeship provides wonderful opportunities for Drake students, but also supports Meredith employees, offers them insight into younger audiences, and provides a talent pipeline for the company. Even outside the apprenticeship, many of our students work part-time at Meredith in a variety of capacities and continue post-graduation as full-time employees. This is a rich relationship that provides great value not only to Drake and Meredith, but to the city of Des Moines as well.

Meredith Corporation has grown from a specialty Midwestern publisher into the biggest magazine media company in the world with some of the strongest brands in the world. The marriage with Dotdash, a digital innovator with a stated emphasis on quality content, promises exciting new opportunities for collaboration with Drake SJMC. Everything that I have read about Dotdash makes me confident that the new owner appreciates the talent and expertise at Meredith and in Des Moines, and that includes the emerging talent at Drake. Business acquisitions are complex, and because the Dotdash Meredith deal hasn’t officially closed, the process of combining the two companies hasn’t technically even begun. It’s understandable that we don’t immediately have all the answers about the future of SJMC’s partnership with the company. But I am very excited about the possibilities of this next evolution!

    Kathleen Richardson, dean and professor

Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication


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1 Comment

  1. Paul LeFort SJMC ‘91 November 6, 2021

    Well said Dean Richardson. Much still to play out but the strong shared history between Drake & Meredith demonstrates the benefits to both orgs. While it will certainly evolve, I too remain optimistic that this partnership will continue far into the future.

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