Journalism courses have been offered at Arizona State since 1931 when President Ralph Swetman wanted a publicist. He employed William D. Taylor in a public relations capacity and as the first journalism teacher in the history of the institution.
In 1936, C.E. "Chuck" Southern of the English faculty began teaching the first journalism classes. In 1946, George C. "Pappy" Yates joined the faculty as chairman of the Division of Special Services and taught some journalism courses. The primary role of the journalism classes in the early years was to provide talent to produce the student newspaper and yearbook.
Ernest J. Hopkins, who is recognized as the founder of the journalism program, was employed as an associate professor of journalism in 1949 and became the first faculty member with journalism in his title. The Division of Journalism was established with 10 courses offered. The first class in radio news was offered in 1951 and a major in radio-television appeared in 1954, as did the first class in news photography.
The State Press served as a laboratory for reporting and editing classes. Image from the ASU Sahuaro, 1956.
In 1957, journalism left the English Department and radio-television courses were removed from the audio-visual curriculum to form the Department of Mass Communication. The new department had a faculty of three and 31 majors; Marvin Alisky served as head. In 1958, the department became a member in the American Society of Journalism School Administrators.
In the beginning, the State Press, the campus newspaper, served as a laboratory for reporting and editing classes. The adviser was a member of the faculty as was the general manager of KAET-TV.
From 2005 to 2019, the student body grew more than 50 percent and the faculty grew by more than 70 percent. National journalism figures who joined the faculty include Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post; Sarah Cohen, former data editor for The New York Times; Walter V. Robinson, former editor of the famed Boston Globe “Spotlight” team; and Pauline Arrillaga and Maud Beelman, former enterprise and investigations editors, respectively, for The Associated Press. During the same time period, the diversity of the student body grew to nearly 40 percent and the diversity of the faculty to 30 percent.