Michael Skube

Associate Professor of Communications
McEwen - Comm. 203C
2850 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244
mskube@elon.edu (336) 278-5779

Brief Biography

   This is my 12th year on the Elon faculty, following a semester as Visiting Professor of  Journalism at Indiana University-Bloomington.  Before I began teaching, I spent 22 years in daily journalism, working for the Winston-Salem Journal, The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  I've been a political reporter and statehouse bureau chief, an editorial writer, a book critic and book-page editor, a general interest columnist and a feature writer.  I've also written for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New Republic and Fortune, among other publications.  At one time or another, I've covered U.S. Senate races, reported from Central America, filed stories on deadline in the midst of hurricanes, witnessed a prison outbreak, interviewed members of the North Carolina Nazi Party and written about children with terminal illness.

    I have served on eight Pulitzer Prize juries, chairing three, and have won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, an American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for Distinguished Commentary, a Duke University Award for Coverage of Higher Education and a James Beard Foundation Award -- among others.

   I am a native of Springfield, Ill., and grew up wanting nothing more from life than to write for newspapers. I began covering local sports for The Illinois State Journal-Register, a capital city daily with a circulation of 60,000 at the time, when I was a sophomore in high school, and to this day no experience in journalism has made me happier than seeing my byline in print for the first time. I was 15. During my first two years of college I worked full-time for the Journal-Register.

    Somehow, though, I became intoxicated while college with political theory and intellectual history, and put the seemingly trivial concerns of journalism in the corner of my mind.  Not until I was 34 years old did I return to newspapers -- after being turned down by papers big and small, good and bad, over a period of four years. What's more, I took a 40 percent pay cut to do so. I think about this often when I talk to students anxious about their prospects and uncertain of their direction.  I've been there, I say, and I tell them that soon enough they will come to know, as I did, who they are and what they're about.

   As lucky as I've been, people are often mistaken in assuming that what gave me the deepest satisfaction in journalism was winning a prize of some note. It was nice, but something else has meant more. That was knowing I proved myself pretty good in almost every form of print or online journalism there is -- political reporting, feature writing, commentary and columns. Not that I was ever the best.  Few people realize how different one form is from another, or how strongly the instincts necessary for political reporting, say, work against the storyteller's impulse to paint word pictures -- to make the words sing.

In my late middle age, I derive an unexpected satisfaction from showing young people how to make their own words sing.

 

 

 

Education

B.A. in Political Science, Louisiana State University, 1966,

Graduate work toward M.A. in Political Science, Louisiana State University, 1966-68. National Defense Education Act Fellow.

Employment History

Associate Professor of Communications.  Elon University, 2002-present.  Courses I am teaching in the Fall 2013:  Media Writing, Politics & Media and Elon 101. In the Spring 2014:  Media Writing and Media and the Middle East. (For other academic years, see Courses Taught.)

Louis B. Weil Visiting Professor of Journalism.   Indiana University-Bloomington, Spring 2002.  I taught news writing and a graduate seminar in commentary and opinion writing.  I was hired by Indiana on the recommendation of Gene Roberts, former managing editor of The New York Times.

Freelance Writer, 2001.  I wrote for Fortune magazine, The  Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, among other publications.

Book Critic, Feature Writer, General-interest Columnist and Travel Writer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1993-2000.

Book Editor and Critic, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., 1986-1993.  I oversaw a transformation of the newspaper's book pages that brought them immediate attention not only within the Research Triangle but also nationally.

Editorial Writer, The News & Observer, 1982-86.  I wrote editorials on politics, education and other topics  under the direction of Claude Sitton and Ferrel Guillory.

Statehouse bureau chief and political reporter, Winston-Salem Journal, 1978-82.  I covered the North Carolina General Assembly, state government and state politics, including two U.S. Senate races and a gubernatorial election. I took a 40 percent cut in pay from my previous job to enter journalism.

Staff member of the Regional Commissioner of U.S. Customs, Miami, Fla., 1970-78.  I drafted policy statements and conducted management studies within the region.   I was one of seven college students hired among more than 600 applicants who competed in a series of aptitude tests and interviews.

Elementary school teacher, Pointe Coupee Parish Schools, New Roads, La., 1968-1970. I taught seventh- and eighth-grade mathematics and science in an all-black elementary school that was under federal order to integrate its faculty by hiring one white teacher. I was that teacher, and it was deeply gratifying to me to learn, several years later, that the students I taught were well ahead of other students in mathematics when they subsequently attended an integrated high school.

Courses Taught

Media Writing, COM 110 (every semester).

Politics & Media, COM 334 (five times, usually once each academic year).

Feature Writing, COM 340 (eight times).

Media and the Middle East, GST 359 (seven times).

Specialized Reporting, JCM 425 (six times).  This course (catalogued by a course designation no longer used) has at various times also been called Investigative Reporting and Advanced Reporting.

Reporting and News Writing, JCM 225 (once).  This course is now called Reporting for the Public Good.

Magazine Writing, JCM 377 (once).

The Pulitzer Prizes in American Journalism, JCM 379 (twice).

Elon 101 (eight times).

Leadership Positions

 I was the recipient of the School's Excellence in Leadership Award in 2011.

Research

My experience has been as a journalist, an editor and a working writer rather than as a researcher.  My    abiding interests are in American politics and political history, especially the evolution of parties; in political journalism; in longform nonfiction writing; in biography and memoir; in politic thought and in intellectual history.

Publications

Hundreds of news stories, profiles, feature stories, travel stories and columns in major newspapers and magazines.  My journalism has been syndicated in newspapers in the United States and Canada.

Professional Activities

I have served on eight Pulitzer Prize juries, both for journalism and for books, and have been the chair of three juries. 

Service Activities

Like all faculty, I have served on committees almost every academic year, both within the University and the School of Communications. I have spoken about journalism and about Elon at three high schools in the Research Triangle.

Awards

Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, 1989.

American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for Distinguished Commentary, 1989.

Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, 1988.

James Beard Foundation Award, 1999.

Duke University Award for Coverage of Higher Education, 1981.

Numerous State Press Association Awards.