I have a lot of fond memories from my time at The University of Georgia. But out of all of them, the one standing out the most is being able to study under, even if it was for one semester, Conrad Fink at UGA’s Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Fink, as he was known, died last night. He was a living legend when it came to journalism, having covered news in South Asia during the 1960s/70s era, been the vice president of the Associated Press and also being in the room when Richard Nixon claimed ‘he was not a crook.’
But that wasn’t what set Fink apart. It was his drive to impress among many of us ‘unwashed’ of the importance of what we planned to do as aspiring journalists. Among the first things offered to us during the semester of which I had Fink for a class was something along the lines of journalist having more power than someone throwing a grenade into a crowd.
To this day, I still have memories of meekly reviewing that day’s Red & Black during his class, knowing that he’d find something to say about my writing at the time when I covered the football beat for the campus paper. Perhaps the most memorable one was “And now we have our very own Mr. Harrison, who made me so angry this morning that I nearly spit up my coffee!”
The red ink on your paper of article may not have been fun at the time, but within that ink was his passion to craft and shape you as a journalist and individual.
Since leaving UGA, I’ve moved into a line of work outside a full-time journalism career, but Fink’s lessons, that of the power of well-crafted writing and producing something that ‘will make people roll out of bed in the morning’ still lingers heavily.
I regret that I never was able to go back to visit Fink, that I never sent him any of my article clips during my stops in Lumberton or Macon.
My biggest regret, however, is that future aspiring journalists at Grady won’t have the same fortunate opportunity as I and many others to study the trade of journalism of which Fink loved so dearly.