In fall 2014, SJMC welcomes Sid Bedingfield to its faculty. Bedingfield, who worked as a journalist for 25 years, including nearly 20 at CNN, received his Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of South Carolina. His research centers on the role of media in political and civic change. "I have always been fascinated with how political ideas spread and how the public responds to political arguments," Bedingfield said.
To further explore political change, Bedingfield looks to history. "It's important to understand how political ideas were understood and communicated historically to understand how they are being adopted and employed in the present," he said.
Bedingfield's dissertation focuses on the rise of the civil rights movement in 1940s South Carolina and its impact on the politics of the state and the nation. "I wanted to look at how one protest movement used mass communication to win allies and gain traction in the larger, mainstream culture," he said. A lot of this political battle was fought through the mass media, Bedingfield said. "Newspapers were at the center of the partisan political battle within the state."
Bedingfield began his career working as a newspaper and wire service reporter in South Carolina and Alabama. In 1986 he joined CNN and in his tenure there served as executive vice president in charge of live news programming, and later as senior executive producer in charge of documentaries and investigative reporting. In 2001, Bedingfield oversaw the network's continuing coverage of the 9/11 attacks -- coverage that earned CNN an Edward R. Murrow Award.
In 2007, Bedingfield went to the University of South Carolina to serve a dual role: as a visiting professor and as a scholar. "I always felt that there was more to understand about the role of communications in how we make decisions concerning politics and governance," he said. "This field is so exciting. There is so much that we need to understand."
While at the University of South Carolina, Bedingfield has taught courses on multimedia journalism and storytelling as well as media and politics. As a 2011 NEH Summer Scholar at Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Studies, he developed a course on mass media's role in the African-American civil rights movement, which he plans to bring to Minnesota. "I'm looking forward to adapting and evolving that course," Bedingfield said.
And as far as moving from the South to the Midwest? "We were charmed by the Twin Cities," Bedingfield says of he and his wife, Dana, who works in social media marketing. "I'm looking forward to working with the faculty and students," he said. "There is a great reputation for serious research at Minnesota and I'm excited to be a part of that." -S.H.