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The University of Texas


Martin L. "Red" Gibson

University of Texas

Hall of Fame Class of 2014

The red-haired and freckled Martin L. Gibson started life in Colorado City, Texas, where he spent summers chopping and picking cotton, driving trucks and mixing mortar for a bricklayer before graduating from high school there. He also picked up the nickname “Red,” which would stick with him all through his life.

Best known for his work in journalism education at The University of Texas, he was equally at home in a metropolitan newsroom or the hospitality suite of a press association convention.

Martin L. “Red” Gibson was honored in 2014  by his induction into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame, the first journalism educator to receive this recognition.

Gibson’s work experience included stints with the Austin American-Statesman, the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle and the Galveston Daily News.

As a University of Texas at Austin professor of journalism, he taught a number of students who themselves would become publishers and leaders in the Texas newspaper industry. During his 24 years of teaching, he developed into one of the best friends of community journalists across Texas. Along with UT colleagues Mike Quinn and Grif Singer, he conducted numerous state and regional workshops for newspaper associations. The books he wrote on journalism became bibles for editors.

Gibson attended Texas Western College in El Paso and the U.S. Naval Academy where, he explained, calculus stymied him. In 1955 he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from North Texas State College in Denton, now the University of North Texas.

After covering sports at the Galveston Daily News for a year, he joined the U.S. Army and edited a newspaper for the 10th Infantry Division in Wurzburg, Germany. In 1959, he earned a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University while working on the copy desk at the Chicago Tribune.

The Houston Chronicle hired him as a copy editor in 1960. By 1965 he was night editor but he left to teach journalism at North Texas State in Denton. He joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in 1969 and earned his doctorate there in 1973.

He held the university’s Philip G. Warner Regents Professorship in Communication.

In 1981 he became the first recipient of the American Press Institute’s Ottaway Fellowship for consulting and teaching and in 1982 he won a Fulbright award to teach and critique newspapers in New Zealand.

His column, “Black and White and Red All Over” was published by Texas Press Association and he wrote a column, “The Newspaper Tuner,” for the Freedom Newspapers group.

He wrote the widely used journalism textbooks “Editing in the Electronic Era” and “The Writer’s Friend” and he conducted journalism workshops in nine states and two provinces of Canada.

Gibson also served terms as president of the Gulf Coast and Texas chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Soon after his death in 1993 at age 59, Gibson was remembered by his colleague Dr. Wayne Danielson of the UT Department of Journalism.

“Red liked to work surrounded by stacks and stacks of paper — newspapers, letters, old class notes, exams, stories written by students, book chap- ters he was editing,” Danielson wrote.

“He liked to have words around him at all times. He was comfortable with words and words comforted him.”