Iconoclastic journalist, teacher
by James Brann
Douglas S. Crocket (COM'52), Boston University's most colorful teacher of journalism, died on July 10. He was 70.
Crocket, a longtime reporter for the Boston Globe, was a gruff, charismatic raconteur who taught Newswriting II from 1974 to 1990 in the department of journalism at the College of Communication. During those years, no COM professor received more enthusiastic teaching evaluations from students.
"Doug was right out of The Front Page," says Boston Globe editor Matthew V. Storin. "He was the ultimate street reporter who could talk to anyone and get anyone to talk to him."
Crocket mesmerized his students with tales of covering the Boston Strangler and other inhabitants of Boston's underworld. He grew up in Somerville with many of the participants of the Irish gang wars of the 1960s, a bloody seven-year vendetta that resulted in the death of some 60 Charlestown and Somerville men.
"Doug's classes always filled up as soon as we opened preregistration," recalls Betsy Dickinson Welch, former assistant dean for student services. "I've never seen anything like it. He cared for the kids and taught them a lot. They adored him."
His teaching style was unorthodox. He could be sarcastic and biting when students produced an amateurish story, yet they kept coming back. Crocket held them to high standards and prepared them well for the world beyond college. His former students today hold jobs on newspapers and magazines throughout the nation.
"Doug was tough," recalls Kate McMahon Upson, former arts and entertainment editor of the New York Daily News. "If you survived his class, you could handle any ornery city editor you'll ever work for."
Crocket ran the Globe Santa campaign for nearly 40 years, writing stories about impoverished families and helping to raise millions of dollars so that poor kids could have a good Christmas.
He graduated from Boston University's journalism department in 1952, after serving in the U.S. Navy.
James Brann is an associate professor in the COM journalism department. He was chairman of the department from 1973 to 1980.