Tony Pederson named senior national fellow at OC


Tony Pederson, a career journalist, editor and professor of journalism, has been named senior national fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. The announcement was made by Charles Overby, chairman of the center.

Pederson is professor emeritus in journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he recently retired after a 20-year career during which he held The Belo Foundation Endowed Distinguished Chair in Journalism. Before beginning at SMU in 2003, Pederson was executive editor and senior vice president of the Houston Chronicle.

“Tony has been an exceptional leader in newspapers and journalism education,” Overby said. “His experience and outlook will be an important part of our Center’s future.”

At SMU, Pederson’s taught a media ethics course that was a foundational course for journalism majors and a component for the ethics requirement in the university curriculum. He served on the promotion and tenure committee for the Meadows School of the Arts and also taught a course on British media in the SMU-in-London summer program. Pederson was awarded the M Award, the highest award given faculty at SMU for distinguished service to the university. He also received the Meadows Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award and the Thomas Tunks Distinguished University Citizen Award.

“I am deeply honored by this appointment to the Overby Center,” Pederson said. “I have known Charles Overby for more than 30 years and have the highest regard for his work as an editor and as CEO of the Freedom Forum. The Overby Center is well-positioned to help address many of the challenges facing journalism and news media.” 

In his career at the Chronicle, Pederson was sports editor, managing editor and executive editor. In his time directing the newsroom, Pederson oversaw the expansion of the newspaper’s national and state desks as well as establishing bureaus in Mexico City and Bogotá, Colombia. Pederson has been active in the Inter American Press Association, based in Miami, for more than 30 years. He served as president of the organization in 2000-2001 and has traveled extensively in Latin America, promoting press freedom. He served as president of the accrediting council for schools of journalism and communication in Latin America 2006-2018. Pederson participated in more than 25 missions to Latin American countries and 15 accreditation visits to Latin American universities.

Pederson is a native Texan who lives in Dallas. He will continue to live there but will be a regular participant in events at the Overby Center. Pederson holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism/communication from Baylor University and a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University where he was a fellow and graduate assistant in the Kiplinger Public Affairs Program.  

The Overby Center’s mission is to promote the highest standards in journalism and news media, support First Amendment principles, and further the understanding of the essential relationship between democracy and a free press. Pederson joins a group of fellows in place at the Overby Center with long experience in news media and education.  The center was funded by a $5 million grant from the Freedom Forum and operates in state-of-the-art facilities adjacent to the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi. 

Other fellows at the Overby Center are Will Norton, senior fellow and former dean at the University of Mississippi; Marquita Smith, assistant dean for graduate programs at the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi; Terry Mattingly, senior fellow and syndicated religion columnist; R.J. Morgan, senior instructional professor in the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi; and Charlie Mitchell, associate professor at the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.