'Guardian of the Newsroom'

Get a copy of the DVD by sending an e-mail to Deborah Gump. You can watch the video through a browser window. If you wish to download the file, simply right-click (control-click on a Mac) this link and choose "download linked file" from the menu.


Dr. John B. Bremner, a professor at the University of Kansas from 1969 to 1985, was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1920. He majored in philosophy and classical languages and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1943; he remained a priest for 25 years. He worked as a magazine editor, newspaper columinst and a radio writer and announcer before coming to the United States in 1950. After earning his master's from Columbia, he worked on newspapers until returning to academia. He arrived at the University of Kansas in 1969 from the University of Iowa, where he earned his doctorate.

Students walked into in Bremner's classroom with anticipatory dread. They knew they could be the subject of a Bremner moment; perhaps the 6-foot-5 white-haired giant would throw open the classroom window and yell to the passing campus: "Help! I'm being held captive by a roomful of idiots!" Or they could be mesmerized by a Bremner soliloquy on the magic of words; as he wrote in the introduction of his "Words on Words," "To love anything, you must first know it. To love words, you must first know what they are ... They have their own historical and etymological associations, their own romantic and environmental dalliances, their own sonic and visual delights."

They also know that in either case, they would leave the classroom a little more educated, a little more respectful of the language and much better prepared for a career in journalism.

Toward the end of his career, the Gannett Foundation sponsored a series of workshops in which Bremner worked with young professors, helping them be better teachers. He urged them to raise their expectations of students, in part by returning to the teaching of grammar. This DVD is based on videtapes of a seminar at Indiana University in 1986.

During this 30-minute video, Bremner refers to his editing test. If you'd like to take a look at the full test, go to The Bremner Editing Center: The test

To borrow Dr. Bremner's parting line ...

Meanwhile comma peace period

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