Scott M. Cutlip
Scott M. Cutlip was an internationally known journalism educator, had an unmatched expertise in public relations, and there are many who have earned their professional stripes under his tutelage.
Cutlip, born in 1915, began to make his mark on Wisconsin journalism when he arrived at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1946, upon being released from active duty with the U.S. Army in World War II. Then-UW President E.B. Fred enlisted Cutlip to coordinate the centennial celebration of the university, which involved extensive coordination with newspapers across Wisconsin. From there, Cutlip unified public relations offices across the campus into what is today’s University News Service, an important liaison between Wisconsin universities and newspapers that continues today.
Cutlip returned to his classroom duties in 1949. For nearly 30 years he trained community journalists and, as a member of the journalism faculty, Cutlip maintained extensive contact with publishers and editors across the state. His outreach efforts helped him teach his students what editors and publishers “in the field” expected from their employees. One of Cutlip’s most significant contributions was the creation of the “Madison Free Press,” a simulated daily newspaper laboratory that put students into an authentic newspaper environment. As a result, the graduates of Cutlip’s classroom were able to walk directly into a newsroom and begin successful careers. Even today, many working reporters and editors are proud of earning their strips under Cutlip’s steady but firm hand.
As Cutlip was helping place well-educated reporters and copy editors in Wisconsin newsrooms, he was also establishing an international reputation for his expertise in public relations. Cutlip was a leader in both fields – journalism and public relations – because he respected, at their best, both pursuits had bedrock in the same values. His advice was the same to students in both fields: know your story better than anyone else, and tell it the same way.
It is a testament to his intelligence, dedication and commitment to education and public service that Cutlip was an integral part of Wisconsin newspapering from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s, even while receiving his national status in public relations. Cutlip finished his career as dean of the school of journalism and the University of Georgia, and at his death in 2000, PR Week, an industry newspaper, described Cutlip as the person who gave legitimacy to public relations education through strong research and scholarship, and credited him with creating the teach model for PR. In addition, his continued association with Wisconsin newspapers throughout his career was both a matter of his heart and his pragmatic nature. He loved newspapers and publishing, and he knew linking the classroom and the newsroom was simply common sense.