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March 30, 2014

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Pam Moreland

I was a reporter at the LA Times in the 1980s, and an adjunct professor at USC journalism school. Lonnie White was one of my students.

At the end of the first or second class meeting, Lonnie came up to me and told me he was a heavily-recruited high school football player from New Jersey.

“Now that I’m at USC, I want to make sure that I graduate with a degree that’s really worth something. I want to be a journalist. Be tough on me. Make sure I do my work and that my writing improves. I realize now that football won’t last forever. I need something else.”

I was tough on Lonnie, but he was tougher on himself. In his mind, there were no excuses for not doing homework and handing it in on time, even when the football team went out of town on away games. Needless to say, reporting and writing skills improved over that quarter.

We were in-and-out of touch over the years. I sent him a congratulations note when he became a full-time staff at the Times. At a NABJ convention, Lonnie told me that he was inspired by the black journalists who worked at the Times during the 1980s. If we could make it there, Lonnie said he was sure he could, too.

Lonnie, you were the inspiration.

Jay Christensen

That's a nice note on Lonnie. Thanks for sharing, Pam.

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