Guido Stempel, founding editor, 1928-20016


*Editor’s note: This obituary was published in the Jun. 3 to Jun. 6, 2016 issue of The Athens Messenger. Some edits were made for the WJMCR’s website.

ATHENS — Ohio University’s legendary journalism professor and researcher, Guido H. Stempel III, died on May 31, 2016, at James Cancer Hospital, Ohio State University, Columbus, at age 87.

While the internet was still in its infancy in 1997, Stempel founded the online academic journalism and communication journal “The Web Journal of Mass Communication Research,” where he served as editor for the rest of his life.
Stempel was born on Aug. 13, 1928, to Guido H. Jr. and Alice Menninger Stempel, who lived in Bloomington, Ind., where Guido Jr.’s brother, John Stempel, was a professor and director of the School of Journalism at Indiana University. Young Guido Stempel grew up in Pittsburgh, later returning to Bloomington to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Indiana.
Stempel became the first doctoral candidate in mass communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His first publication, “Sampling Size for Classifying Subject Matter in Dailies,” appeared in Journalism Quarterly in 1952, after which his dissertation was the foundation for a second Journalism Quarterly article. As he advanced in his academic career, he became the longest-serving editor of that quarterly (1972-89), the primary national source for journalism and mass communication research.
Stempel’s personal research and publications, as well as his consistent encouragement of colleagues to do the same, became major factors in Ohio University’s School of Journalism’s establishment (along with the School of Telecommunications) of the PhD in mass communication, for being chosen in the first round of the Ohio Board of Regents’ Outstanding Programs Award, for the Scripps Howard Foundation’s naming this School of Journalism after its founder, E.W Scripps, and for the subsequent addition of the name “Scripps” to the entire College of Communication.
In 2013, the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism established the Guido H. Stempel III Award for Journalism and Mass Communication Research to recognize journalism educators who, like Stempel, had established “a body of research that has benefited the professions of journalism and related mass communication fields.” It has now been awarded three times in ceremonies that he was able to attend and will continue to be awarded in the future.
He was the recipient of many other awards recognizing his leadership in the fields of communication education and research. Stempel’s most recent national honor was the Paul H. Deutschmann Award for Excellence in Research, given at the 2007 national convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Other recognitions have included Ohio University’s Distinguished Professor Award, 1982; the University of Wisconsin’s Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service in the Profession of Journalism, 1977; AEJMC’s Eleanor Blum Award for Distinguished Service to Research, 1989; the University of Wisconsin’s Harold L. Nelson Award, 2004; and the Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award in 1994.
Stempel was co-editor and co-author of the seminal communication research book, “Research Methods in Mass Communication” (Prentice Hall, 1981) and was co-author or co-editor of other titles, including “The Media in the 1984 and 1988 Presidential Elections” (Greenwood, 1991), “The Practice of Political Communication” (Prentice Hall, 1994), and “Mass Communication Research and Theory” (Allyn & Bacon, 2003). He has written monographs and contributed to other scholarly publications, mainly Public Opinion Quarterly, Communication Research, and Newspaper Research Quarterly.
Stempel joined the Ohio University School of Journalism faculty in 1965. He became a major figure in the school’s graduate program while also teaching such undergraduate courses as Communication Law and Editing. His advanced research courses became the backbones of the graduate research of many master’s and PhD students. His research and publication records, as well as his support of other School of Journalism faculty members to do the same, continuously enhanced the reputation of Ohio University as a national leader in journalism and communication education. As an Ohio University distinguished professor, he was able to select one undergraduate per year as a student worthy of continuing his or her education with the Stempel Distinguished Professor Scholarship.
After his 2002 retirement as professor emeritus of journalism, he continued to direct the university’s Scripps Survey Research Center. In conjunction with Tom Hargrove at Scripps Howard’s Washington Bureau, he directed the research and contributed to the writing of many political research reports that were distributed nationwide by SHNS. He and Hargrove co-edited the two-volume encyclopedia “The 21st Century Voter: Who Votes, How They Vote and Why They Vote,” published in December by ABC-CLIO. He also shared his knowledge of public issues through columns published under his byline in The Athens Messenger and The Columbus Dispatch.

With wife Anne Stempel, he was an active member of Athens’ First United Methodist Church and a longtime member of the Trinity Class. He worked to help improve the lives of others, beginning with his service as a camp counselor at the Fresh Air Home in Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife. He was an active member of the Athens community and spent several years coaching Little League. He loved dogs and had one by his side for much of his life.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Ralph (Beth) Stempel of Los Angeles, Calif., and Carl (Colleen Fong) of Oakland, Calif; one daughter, Jane Stempel (John) Arata of Gahanna, Ohio; and three grandchildren, Alex Stempel, Derrick Fong-Stempel and Chelsea Arata.

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