Howard Boone Jacobson, 88

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 2:00pm

Howard Boone Jacobson, author, pioneer in journalism education and a fearless fighter for public access and first amendment rights on cable television in the U.S., died Wednesday, Oct. 9, from complications of a respiratory illness. He was 88. He and his wife of 60 years, Dr. Dana Raphael, have been islanders for over 40 years, and were avid supporters of the Island Conservancy and other Block Island causes. They have a home off Cooneymus Road.

Dr. Jacobson co-authored two seminal books on mass communications theory and technology: “A Mass Communications Dictionary,” and “Automation and Society.” He collaborated with Marshall McLuhan on his book, “Understanding Media” (1964), and published numerous articles in magazines and research journals on the future of journalism.

As a beloved teaching professor and Chair of the Journalism Department at the University of Bridgeport for 36 years — and as a visiting professor at Columbia University — Dr. Jacobson had a major influence on students who became leaders in their fields. Many of his students went on to lead successful careers in various media, notably in print media at the Associated Press, The New York Times, Time Inc., The New Haven Register, and major dailies throughout the country. Others pursued careers in television, public relations, advertising,marketing, as well as teaching journalism. In the mid-60s, Dr. Jacobson served as a speech writer to IBM founder Thomas Watson, and started the company’s famous “Think” magazine.

Dr. Jacobson began his journalism career at The Missourian and then as a stringer during World War II for the Associated Press.

As an instructor, he created courses in which future journalists learned how to use the methods and thought processes of behavioral science to develop their investigative skills. He developed the first Center for the Development of Community Media, to test alternative, local modes of communication in the urban media environment. As a result, students were able to create and distribute a community newspaper with paid advertising.

Dr. Jacobson also experimented with small format video as a tool in community development. A U.S. government grant provided the means to teach elected officials and community workers in the uses of video as a means for them to interact with citizens. He served for 30 years on the New England Cable Advisory Council.

Born in Worchester, Massachusetts, in 1925, he first worked selling ice boxes for his father’s appliance store. Ineligible for the war due to his asthma, he attended the University of New Mexico as an undergraduate, working his way through college as a waiter in the school sororities.

He is survived by Dr. Dana Raphael, noted anthropologist, and three children, Jessa Murnin, Seth Jacobson and Brett Raphael. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends consider contributing to Howard’s favorite non-profit causes: Connecticut Ballet Theatre and Connecticut Cable Television Advisory Council.