Neuharth will deliver lecture at USD Oct. 12 South Dakota native Allen H. Neuharth, founder of USA Today and the Freedom Forum, will return to The University of South Dakota on the 50th anniversary of his graduation to deliver a special lecture on Thursday, Oct. 12.
Open to the university community and the public, the 12th annual Neuharth Lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in the Wayne Knutson Theatre in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. A question-and-answer session with the audience will follow the lecture, part of the Dakota Days homecoming festivities at USD. The lecture, titled "You Can Go Home Again," will be a look back at USD since 1950 and a look ahead to 2050.
Neuharth also will serve as master of ceremonies at the USD Alumni Association banquet Friday, Oct. 13, honoring his class of 1950, and he will be inducted into the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame.
Over the past 12 years, the Neuharth Lecture series has brought some of the nation's top journalists to The University of South Dakota campus, giving students and the community the opportunity to hear the inside story of journalism from, among others, the late Charles Kuralt, Larry King, Tom Brokaw, Judy Woodruff and Tim Russert.
The Neuharth Lecture series is a program of the Allen H. Neuharth Center for Excellence in Journalism at USD. The center is funded by the Freedom Forum and was established in 1988 to honor Neuharth.
The center's journalism education program serves news media professionals and the public, USD students, and the staff of the Volante, USD's independent student newspaper. The center also bestows the annual Allan H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism to a nationally prominent journalist.
This year the lecture by Neuharth will replace the usual award ceremony, which will resume next year.
"Al Neuharth has been a revolutionary figure in journalism," said Charles L. Overby, chairman and chief executive officer of The Freedom Forum. "From his founding of USA Today to his strong commitments to honoring excellence in journalism, to promoting the advancement of women and people of color in the profession and to inspiring young people to embrace journalism as a career, Al is truly one of those people who has helped change the world of journalism."
A former editor of the Volante, Neuharth had his first newspaper job at age 11 as a newspaper carrier. Following his graduation from USD, he launched his first newspaper, a statewide weekly sports publication called SoDak Sports that began in 1952 and folded after two years.
Neuharth worked for the Alpena Journal, as a summer intern at the Daily Republic in Mitchell and Rapid City Journal, as a reporter for the Associated Press in Sioux Falls and Pierre, and at The Miami Herald and Detroit Free Press. He later joined Gannett Co. as general manager of its two Rochester, NY newspapers.
Neuharth rose to become chairman and chief executive officer of Gannett and led the company to become the largest newspaper publisher in the United States. While at Gannett, he started a newspaper called Today, later renamed Florida Today, and founded USA Today in 1982.
Now retired from the newspaper business, Neuharth remains active as founder and senior advisory chairman of The Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan international foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.
The Freedom Forum focuses on four priorities: The Newseum, the interactive museum of news located in Arlington, VA, First Amendment issues, newsroom diversity and world press freedom.
Since March 1999, Neuharth has led a 50-state tour of the U.S. with NewsCapade, the Newseum's traveling exhibit and the largest traveling museum in America. Neuharth visits every stop and participates in public programs exploring the issues of media fairness and the First Amendment. So far, the exhibit has visited 46 states, including a stop last October at The University of South Dakota.
Neuharth, 76, lives in Cocoa Beach, FL, with his wife, Dr. Rachel Fornes, a chiropractor, and their six young adopted children. He also has two grown children by a previous marriage. Neuharth continues to write a weekly column, "Plain Talk," for USA Today.