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Cheryl W. Thompson

Cheryl W. Thompson

NPR investigative reporter | Shared 2002 Pulitzer at Washington Post

You won’t find his name on the list of Washington Post journalists who contributed to the paper’s 2002 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

But take it from Cheryl W. Thompson: the late, great UI journalism professor Bob Reid had a hand in that prize-winning Post project — as well as all of the others that bore her name over the years.

“Every award I’ve won, from my shared Pulitzer to my Emmy and others, I owe to his nurturing and guidance,” says Thompson, who early in 2019 left her investigative reporter position at the Post for a similar one at National Public Radio.

Before she embarked on a career that's seen her be named president of the Investigative Reporters and Editors and Educator of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, Thompson earned a pair of degrees from the UI — a bachelor’s in speech communication followed by a master’s in journalism.

It was while working on the latter that Thompson, now teaching the next generation of journalists herself as an associate professor at George Washington, got to know the man she describes as “my mentor, sometime savior and later, my friend.

“Professor Reid was one of my graduate school professors,” she says. “He was tough, but fair.

"I remember getting an A-minus on a 25-page paper. Bob scratched it out ever so lightly so that I could still see the grade, and changed it to a B-plus because I had a comma in the wrong place.

“I was so upset with him because I worked hard on that paper. Now, as a journalist and a professor, I totally get why he did it and I thank him for it.

“Being accurate is key in journalism. It was a valuable lesson he taught me; one that I clearly remember all these years later.

“Professor Reid was an amazing teacher who really cared about me and wanted me to be a successful journalist. I like to think I’ve made him proud during my 30-year career as a reporter for The News-Gazette, Gainesville Sun, Los Angeles Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star and The Washington Post.

“I miss him and am forever grateful.”

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