SOJ Insider | Bob Dubill

Former USA Today top editor sings praises of good ol’ fashioned hard work

By Sarah McLean

Bob Dubill, former USA TODAY executive editor, urged students to make a difference with their reporting, while staying hungry for challenges, during a campus visit in February 2008.

“It is easy to become a good writer if you are a good reporter,” said Dubill. “You can make a difference with your reporting if you go the extra mile.”

The extra mile for Dubill started when he landed a job with The Associated Press (AP) and worked his way up to bureau chief of the AP’s New Jersey operation.

Dubill later became executive editor of Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C. Under his direction, Gannett won 24 national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Dubill served as executive editor of USA TODAY from 1995-2002. The paper’s circulation grew to more than 2.2 million copies per day under his leadership.

Dr. George Esper, Ogden Newspapers Visiting Professor of Journalism, said Dubill’s visits are always inspiring.

“Bob Dubill is my hero, a jewel in journalism – passionate and prevailing, decent and dedicated, generous and gracious,” said Esper. “He is a legend in journalism, having helped turn USA TODAY into such a huge success that its critics later used it as a model.”

“Who knows? Maybe headlines will be written in the sky in the future.”
                             - Bob Dubill

As a start-up paper, USA TODAY was criticized for its heavy use of graphics and shorter-length stories and was sometimes referred to as the “McPaper.” Dubill demonstrated to students how USA TODAY staffers responded to the criticism. Wearing a pair of oversized plastic sunglasses and dancing, Dubill sang the lyrics from Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

Popular during USA TODAY’s early years, Dubill said newsroom employees adopted the song as their anthem. He told students they also need to stay hungry to make their mark in journalism today.

Despite the advancing technology of online newspapers, Dubill said he has faith newspapers will be around, in one form or another, in the years to come.

“Who knows? Maybe headlines will be written in the sky in the future,” said Dubill.


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