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Alumni Profile

Ben there, done that

Ben Holden

Journalist Ben Holden, BJ ’85, directs the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media at the University of Nevada, Reno.

No one can accuse Ben Holden of being sedentary. After graduating from the J-School, Holden, BJ ’85, earned degrees in business administration and law from the University of California, Berkeley, practiced law in California for three years, went on to cover electrical utility deregulation and race relations for The Wall Street Journal and served in management positions at newspapers from Columbus, Ga., to Palm Springs, Calif. Now he has made his biggest jump of all.

On May 1, 2010, Holden became director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media 
at the University of Nevada, Reno. “It is a different world,” Holden says of his move to academia. “When you work for a private company, sometimes every party has to see what’s in it for them. But if you’re working for a nonprofit, people help you for love of the game.”

Holden plans to start a scholarly journal that will identify conflicts between the right to a free press and the right to a fair trial. The publication will try to articulate concerns and propose solutions. “Wayne Gretzky said, ‘You skate to where the puck’s going to be,’ ” Holden says. “That’s what we’ll try to do.”

The St. Louis native is excited and a little nervous to be back at school. “I’ve never taught before,” he says. “You want the students to like you, but I’m a little concerned how to motivate them.” If his students are half as motivated as he is, learning from Holden won’t be a problem. — Josh Chittum