University Advancement
News Release

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler
(818) 677-2130

Noted Journalism Historian Tom Reilly,
Former Chair of CSUN's Journalism Department, Has Died

(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., May 7, 2002) - Tom Reilly, noted journalism historian and long-time chair of the journalism department at California State University, Northridge, died today at his home in Burbank following a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 67.

Reilly, an acknowledged expert on the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848, was a journalism professor at Cal State Northridge from 1969 to 2001, with two years off for study at the University of Minnesota, from which he received his Ph.D. in mass communications. He was named Professor Emeritus in 1999.

The academician served as chair of the CSUN journalism department from 1981 to 1985 and from 1990 to 1998. During his years at the university he taught beginning and advanced reporting, journalism history, mass communications, magazine article writing and graduate seminars.

"In addition to being a personal friend and mentor to me, Tom was the backbone of this department for 12 years as chair," said Cynthia Rawitch, chair of CSUN's journalism department. "Most significantly, in the years following the earthquake Tom rebuilt the department physically, emotionally and academically. We owe him a debt of gratitude."

Reilly, who was completing a book on the role of the media in the Mexican-American War, was the author of numerous articles, including "The New Orleans War Press: 1846-1848," in "Journalism History;" "Lincoln and the Press" and "The Press and the Mexican War," in "History of the Mass Media in the United States: An Encyclopedia;" "A Spanish-Language Voice of Dissent in Antebellum New Orleans," in "Louisiana History XXIII," and "Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 Forced New Role on the Press," in "Journalism Quarterly."

His professional presentations were made to such educational institutions as the University of Tennessee and the University of Georgia and to such organizations as the California Journalism Council, the West Coast Journalism Historians Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and the Southwest Historical Association.

In 1985 he was awarded the Henry W. Grady Prize for Best History Paper, presented by the Southeastern Regional Colloquium, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, held at the University of Georgia.

He was founding editor of "Journalism History," an academic journal devoted to the study of communication history, and served as editor from 1974 to 1985.

In addition to his teaching and writing, Reilly traveled extensively in both China and India. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in 1966-68, serving as consultant in mass communications to the Family Planning Department of Bombay, India.

In the late 1970s he visited departments of journalism and mass communications at nine universities in India, as well as the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Dehli. In 1977 he had a private interview with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and in 1979 he presented an address on "Potential Impact of Television in India" to both students and faculty of Calicut University in Kerala, India.

While on sabbatical leave in l985 and l986, he served as an adviser to the New China News Agency in Beijing, the largest international news agency in China. While there he spoke to journalism students at six Chinese universities and to New China News Agency bureaus in Chengdu, China, and Lhasa, Tibet, where he was the first foreigner allowed to speak to that staff.

In l994 he traveled through Thailand and Burma as part of sabbatical leave.

From 1953 to 1961, Reilly served as reporter, copy editor, sports editor and assistant to the managing editor of the Van Nuys News (now Daily News), with two years off in the Army as an information specialist. For the next five years he served as public information officer for the Los Angeles City Schools.

Reilly was a member of the Community Advisory Board of public television station KCET from 1996 to the present. He was a co-founder of the West Coast Journalism Historians Association and from 1975 to 1979 served as program chairperson for the groupšs annual conferences.

The educator held memberships in the American Historical Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, the California Society of Newspaper Editors, the Organization of American Historians, the Society for the Study of the Early Republic, the Society of Professional Journalists and Kappa Tau Alpha, the national journalism scholarship society.

He is survived by his mother, Helen, of Burbank, and several cousins in New Jersey.

There will be no funeral service. A memorial service will be scheduled in the near future. Donations are being accepted for the Tom Reilly Journalism Student Projects Fund in care of Cal State Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA 91330.

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