Stephen Buckley, a veteran editor and educator who worked at The Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute, has been chosen as one of two new Eugene C. Patterson Professors of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.
Buckley will join the other new Patterson professor, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, whose appointment was announced Monday. They will begin July 1 in the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, Duke’s hub for journalism education in the Sanford School.
Buckley, a 1989 Duke graduate in political science, has had a wide-ranging career as a local reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and journalism educator. He is the lead story editor for Global Press Journal, an international news organization that focuses its reporting on undercovered regions.
Buckley has a unique connection with Patterson, a legendary editor and important voice in the American civil rights movement. As editor of the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times), Patterson allowed Buckley to work as a sportswriter while still in high school. When Buckley returned to the Times as a reporter and then rose to become a senior editor, Patterson, then the editor emeritus of the paper, continued to be an important mentor.
“It’s really humbling to be able to play a small part in extending Gene Patterson’s legacy,” said Buckley. “It’ll be a thrill to pass along the journalistic values he exemplified – integrity, independence, intellectual honesty, humility, compassion, and courage – to this generation of students as they prepare to help defend our fragile democracy. And to do it at my alma mater, no less, feels like a wonderful gift.”
“I am thrilled Stephen is returning to Duke and joining our faculty at the Sanford School of Public Policy,” said Dean Judith Kelley. “His connection to Eugene Patterson since his early journalism career brings the endowment full circle, passing on a torch of leadership. Stephen will bring our students a valuable international perspective, one of the hallmarks of the Sanford and Duke experience that he will foster even more. With his global journalism experience and leadership, he will help train future journalists at Duke to go into the world and make a difference.”
“I had the great fortune of working with Stephen when he was an editor at the Tampa Bay Times,” said Bill Adair, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center. “He was one of the smartest editors I’ve known.”
After graduating from Duke, Buckley began his career as a local reporter for The Post in Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland. He covered education, courts and the night police beat and then became a foreign correspondent, initially as the Post’s Africa Bureau Chief and then the paper’s first correspondent based in Brazil.
He returned to St. Petersburg in 2001 as a national reporter for the Times and then became an editor in charge of national and international coverage before being promoted to managing editor and then publisher of tampabay.com, the paper’s digital site. He moved to the Poynter Institute in 2010 as dean of the faculty. In 2015, he moved to Kenya, where he taught at The Aga Khan University before joining Global Press Journal.
The professorship is named for Eugene Patterson, a journalist and civil rights activist. The Patterson Chair, endowed by a gift from the Poynter Fund (now the Tampa Bay Times Fund), honors the former editor-in-chief and chief executive officer of The St. Petersburg Times, whose earlier work as editor of the Atlanta Constitution (now The Atlanta-Journal Constitution) set a benchmark for coverage of the civil rights movement.
Patterson also served three years as managing editor at The Washington Post. He taught at Duke in the public policy program from 1971 to 1972, served on the university’s board of trustees from 1988 to 1994 and holds an honorary doctorate from Duke, awarded in 1978.
This year, Duke announces two Patterson professors, which has precedent. When the Patterson professorship was established at Duke in 1998, it was jointly held by Susan Tifft and Alex S. Jones until Jones departed in 2000 to become the director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.