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Bob Steele '69

Phyllis W. Nicholas Endowed Director

Bob Steele was named the Phyllis W. Nicholas Endowed Director of The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics on January 1, 2010. He also is a distinguished professor of journalism ethics on the DePauw faculty.

Dr. Steele returned to his alma mater in 2008 after a career in journalism and serving nearly 20 years on the faculty of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, FL. He continues his affiliation with that institute as The Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values.

Bob Steele graduated from DePauw in 1969 with a degree in economics, and he received his M.S. in television-radio from Syracuse University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa writing his dissertation on journalism ethics and ethical decision-making. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Journalism from DePauw in 2007 and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Emerson College in 2006.

At DePauw, in addition to leading the Prindle Institute for Ethics, Dr. Steele teaches a first-year-seminar focusing on Values, Beliefs and Storytelling. He also teaches a seminar on Leadership and Responsibility and a course on Journalism Ethics. His research interests focus on the value and values of journalism, on ethics in the digital era, and on the concept of duty and loyalty in leadership.

As one of the nation’s foremost experts on journalism ethics, Bob Steele regularly advises journalists and media leaders across the country on ethical dilemmas and leadership challenges. He also is frequently interviewed about media ethics issues by news organizations including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC Nightly News, NPR and CNN. At Poynter, he taught hundreds of workshops and thousands of journalists and media leaders. He also led ethics and values sessions for nearly one hundred news organizations across the country including newspapers, television stations, and broadcast and newspaper groups. He also has advised many news organizations on their codes of ethics and standards and practices guidelines. Dr. Steele has written dozens of articles and essays for Poynter Online over the years, and he has written articles, case studies and handbooks for The American Society of Newspaper Editors, The Radio-Television News Directors Association, The Society of Professional Journalists, and other professional organizations. He was the co-author of three editions of Doing Ethics in Journalism: A Handbook with Case Studies, published by the Society of Professional Journalists, and he authored chapters in other books on journalism. In 2010, the Society of Professional Journalists honored him as a Fellow of the Society, the highest honor SPJ bestows upon a journalist for extraordinary contributions to the profession.


His professional background includes ten years as a local television reporter, executive news producer, and news director in Maine and Iowa. He also hosted a program on media analysis for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. From 1984-1989, he taught journalism ethics, media law and reporting at the University of Maine. He also served in the US Army from 1969 to 1972, graduating from the Infantry Officers Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. He spent ten months in Vietnam as a Signal Corps officer where he received a Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement.

Bob's wife, Dr. Carol Steele, is an associate dean of academic affairs at DePauw and the director of the DePauw Sustainability Program. They are the parents of three daughters who live in Denver, Colorado and Portland, Maine, with their respective spouses. Bob and Carol have two  grandsons, Henry and Oliver, and a granddaughter, Zevon.

Bob Steele interviews with news media...

NPR Calls on Prof. Bob Steele '69 to Discuss Doctored Photo

An NPR story examining a "photographic infraction" by the North Korean Central News Agency, involving a doctored image taken during the funeral procession of Kim Jong Il calls on the director of DePauw University's Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics. When compared to other photos, the news agency's image has clearly been altered to remove some people from the shot....

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Relationships Between Commentators and Candidates Should be Disclosed, Prof. Bob Steele '69 Tells AP

"Political consultant Dick Morris recently disclosed on Fox News Channel that some of the Republican presidential candidates that he talks about on the air have paid for advertisements in a newsletter he sends out to subscribers," begins an Associated Press story being distributed nationally today.

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