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Schuneman honored with induction into Ohio Communication Hall of Fame

Feb 26, 2013

R. Smith "Smitty" Schuneman accepts the 2013 Ohio Communication Hall of Fame award at the Schuneman Symposium on Feb. 25, 2012. / Photos by Megan Westervelt

Schuneman honored with induction into Ohio Communication Hall of Fame

By Erin Roberts

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2013)—R. Smith “Smitty” Schuneman, an accomplished Ohio University alumnus and the benefactor of a generous $495,000 gift to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2009, was inducted into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame after the keynote lecture of the fifth annual Schuneman Symposium on Photojournalism and New Media on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, on the Ohio University campus.

“This is a wonderful surprise,” Schuneman said. “Totally unexpected.”

The Ohio Communication Hall of Fame was established by the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University in 1993. The criteria for induction into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame are lifetime achievement and a tie to Ohio (either the state or the university). Communication professionals who are not graduates of Ohio University may be nominated and inducted.

Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth says Schuneman was honored for his lifetime achievement in photojournalism mostly as an instructor at the University of Minnesota, where he taught for 16 years. 

“Smitty had a number of highly successful students and helped to shape a generation of photojournalists,” Dean Titsworth said. “Of course, we’re also grateful to Smitty and Pat for their incredible gift to the journalism school and for the experiences we’ve been able to create through the Schuneman Symposium for our students.” 

Schuneman earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 1958 and a master's degree in 1960 from Ohio University. He then earned a doctorate degree at the University of Minnesota before becoming a professor of photojournalism there. Later, he and his wife Patricia, founded Media Loft Inc., a full-service production firm that creates award-winning meeting, events, film and video for corporate clients. 

“My proudest accomplishment is that the editor, star photographer and director of photography at National Geographic were my students,” he said. “The joy of teaching was that group, but Ohio University was where I had a wonderful six-year love affair with learning photography.” 

Schuneman also said he and his wife decided to give the money to Ohio University while they were still living so that they could come back to learn more about the industry they loved on the campus that they loved.

“It is because of this alumnus that we are all gathered here tonight, for the fifth year in a row, to examine the changing field of photojournalism and new media,” said Ohio University Provost Pam Benoit. “Thanks (their generous gift,) the Schuneman Symposium has brought esteem and a variety of leading journalists and speakers to the Ohio University campus.”

The surprise presentation followed a keynote address entitled “Why Journalism is Not Dead”  by moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and “PBS NewsHour” senior correspondent Gwen Ifill, who received the Carr Van Anda Award from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

Over the years, the symposium has covered such topics as the role of new media in the 2008 Presidential election, convergence, mashable media models, the impact of photography and finally, in 2013, excellence in journalism and why it still matters. Notable presenters have included Ana Marie Cox, Robert McChesney, Clarence Page and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. 

“My heartfelt thank-you goes out to our honoree for these incredible experiences for the students, faculty and staff of Ohio University as well as the local community,” Benoit said.

For a full list of Ohio Communication Hall of Fame members, visit