My Torchbearer: Jim McPherson

Posted by - - 2000s, Submitted

Professor of Communication Jim McPherson influenced the way I watch movies, consume media and see the world. Beginning with his Media Research class my freshman year in 2000 (which was his first year at Whitworth, too), I’m pretty sure I had a Jim class every year until I graduated. It was in his courses, particularly Media Criticism and Media History, where I felt like I really grew in my communications major and found my niche. I loved analyzing headlines, layouts, and photo selections; I loved learning about pre-Code Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s. His classes were fun, and they prompted some of the most thought-provoking discussions I had in the classroom. He taught me not just to question and listen to both sides of a debate (or TV/radio networks or news sites), but to consider how each side was communicating, and how that may influence my response to it. These are the things I continue to take away 10 years later. I’ll never forget going to his class the day after 9/11 when he shared an emotional moment after having been overwhelmed with media coverage (as we all had) that repeated footage of the towers burning and collapsing for the past 24 hours. He described a walk he took that afternoon in The Loop when he paused to observe a bumblebee that was peacefully buzzing around a flower, doing what it does in its season. During a time when nothing seemed to make sense, when our livelihoods felt threatened, the bee was a humble reminder that the world carried on despite our nation’s immense loss; there was still some order in the midst of chaos. God was still here, somehow. And observing a bumblebee was enough to make us cry.