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Former War Correspondent Credits Mizzou for Success

Posted by Spencer Pearson on September 13, 2008

Just before the dedication of the new Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute Friday, my colleagues and I had the pleasure of meeting former foreign correspondent Seymour Topping (BJ ’43).  Seymour was happy to tell us how Walter Williams’ School of Journalism was able to prepare him for a successful reporting career.

Mr. Topping was attracted to the University of Missouri because he had interest in serving as a foreign correspondent in China.  Walter Williams had set up schools of journalism in China, and the University had its own paper, The Missourian, which offered hands-on experience to students.  These factors convinced Mr. Topping to enroll at Mizzou.  His studies were interrupted when his ROTC group was called to serve in WWII.  He served as an Army officer until the end of the war, then returned to Columbia, MO to graduate in 1943 and embarked on a very eventful and successful career.

Seymour Topping began his career as a war correspondent in China during the outbreak of the Chinese Civil War.  He also had the privilege of covering the Cuban Missile Crisis and the trial of U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers during the height of the Cold War.  In 1966 he returned to New York and became the foreign editor for The New York Times. Mr. Topping gave all the credit for his success to the School of Journalism.  He told us that the only training he received before going to China was working at The Missourian under Gene Sharp.  This experience equipped him to follow his dreams farther than he ever could have imagined.  His career is just one of many examples of the influence our school has had on the world of journalism, and his story will continue to inspire generations of students to carry on the future of journalism.

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