Albert Pickerell, professor emeritus of journalism at UC Berkeley, died Saturday, Feb. 13, at age 86

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs

BERKELEY--Albert Pickerell, professor emeritus of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, died on Feb. 13 at age 86.

A specialist in media law, Pickerell came to UC Berkeley in 1951 to teach in the department of journalism, an undergraduate program later abolished when the Graduate School of Journalism was created. He retired from full-time teaching in 1979 but continued to work part-time for the journalism school.

Because of his expertise in journalism law, Pickerell testified in dozens of libel lawsuits. His testimony helped comedienne Carol Burnett win a large settlement against a tabloid publication. To show her gratitude, the actress presented UC Berkeley's journalism school with a $100,000 gift.

Before coming to UC Berkeley, Pickerell served as a publications officer during World War II and worked for several wire services and newspapers including the Associated Press, United Press and the Washington Post.

Serving as the University of California's statewide director of public information from 1960 to 1966, Pickerell coordinated the public information activities of the system's nine campuses. His first assignment was creating an information program for California's Master Plan for Education.

Pickerell's book, "The Courts and the News Media," published by the California Judges Association, is now in its fourth edition and is widely used in journalism classrooms and by newspaper reporters and editors. He received a special citation from the judges' association for authoring the book and for numerous other contributions to the California judiciary.

In 1994, the California Press Association presented Pickerell with the Philip N. McCombs Achievement Award for his lifelong contribution to students, publishers and the newspaper industry.

Pickerell played a valuable role during the campus's transition from an undergraduate journalism department to a two-year professional school in 1969.

"He provided continuity with the campus administration and alumni during this change," said Edwin Bayley, the Graduate School of Journalism's first dean and a professor emeritus there. "His contacts with the academic community were very helpful to me."

In addition to journalism law, Pickerell, a loyal member of UC Berkeley's Academic Senate, taught classes on news editing, reporting crime and the courts, the foreign press and international communications. His courses were highly valued by students, according to Bayley.

"Albert was a meticulous and thorough professor," said Ben Bagdikian, professor emeritus and former dean of the journalism school. "He was also a valuable link to professionals in the field."

Born in Cherryvale, Kan. in 1912, Pickerell received his BA from Kansas State University and both an MA and a PhD from Stanford University.

Pickerell is survived by his wife, Betty Pickerell of Oakland, to whom he was married for 44 years; a daughter, Lynn Bodell of Atherton; and a son, Blair Pickerell, who lives in Hong Kong. There will be no memorial service.

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