Professor John Bender to retire after 32 years

Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 9:15am

Associate dean for research and faculty affairs and journalism professor John Bender will retire at the end of the spring semester after 32 years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

His teaching and research areas include news reporting and writing, mass media law, media history and controls of information. He is secretary of the Nebraska state convention of the Association of American University Professors and for nearly 16 years he was executive director of the Nebraska High School Press Association. 

At CoJMC, Bender is known as a tough professor, but his passion for law has always inspired his students.

Professor Bender is one of the best educators to have graced the halls of CoJMC. His mass media law class was one of the most informative, and his energy and passion remains unparalleled,” said Sumit Jagdale, one of his former students. “I consider myself lucky enough to have studied under his tutelage as I continue to benefit from his teachings and media law insights to this day.” 

Bender is also known for teaching a freshman honors seminar on the First Amendment and taking his honors students to Washington, D.C., each spring. Through this course, other courses he taught and his passion for teaching, Bender left a lasting impact on his students.

“I learned what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of John Bender. I took his First Amendment Honors course my first semester of undergrad,” said Sophia Nocera, a former student. “I took every class I could with him and every class I felt heard, understood and appreciated. He met with me in his free time several times, and we still keep in contact.”

In 2020, Bender assumed the role of associate dean for research and faculty affairs in the college. In addition to mentoring faculty, he undertook a comprehensive review of the college’s promotion and tenure guidelines and policies and procedures.

“John's patience and wisdom in committee meetings, faculty meetings and one-on-one meetings is a true inspiration,” assistant professor of advertising and public relations Kelli Boling said. “I really wish I had the opportunity to work with John for more than one year. He’s made me feel welcome and valued since Day 1.”

Bender is lead author of "Writing & Reporting for the Media," one of the best-selling college textbooks on news reporting and writing. The 12th edition was published by Oxford University Press in the fall of 2018, and the 13th edition is scheduled for publication in fall 2022. He is the sole author of “Law for Media Professionals,” an electronic textbook for undergraduate media law students, which was published in January 2019 by Great River Learning.

He’s written papers on libel law, the U.S. Supreme Court's Gannett v. DePasquale decisions in 1979 and state laws on access to public records; he is working on a book about the U.S. Supreme Court's major decisions on media access to criminal proceedings.

Bender joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska in 1990, and before that he was an assistant professor of journalism at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri. In 2007, Bender received the College Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2011, he received the James A. Lake Academic Freedom Award for his work in promoting academic freedom in high school journalism programs, his teaching and his involvement in faculty governance at University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Bender’s more recent honors include being named the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Honors Journalism Faculty of the Year in March of 2020, the Omaha Press Club’s 2019 Journalism Educator of Distinction and his appointment to professorship of the William H. Kearns Chair in Journalism in 2019.

Bender has mentored many students, faculty and staff in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications and his passion for journalism and specifically the First Amendment will continue to leave an impact on the CoJMC community.

“Dr. Bender introduced me to the world of journalism and how to engage in open discussion over topics surrounding the First Amendment,” former student Doris Sevan said. “His classroom was welcoming of all opinions and allowed me to find my voice in different topics. I owe him a lot for instilling in me a passion and respect for journalism and the First Amendment.”

John Bender