The Columbia Journalism Review called Dick Polman one of the nation's top political reporters. Jules Witcover called him "one of the best of the political reporters who have succeeded my own generation."
Now you can call him "perfessor."
And say goodbye, sort of.
After 21 years at The Inquirer, Polman says he is crossing the Schuylkill this fall to become a full-time senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. He expects to teach two classes per semester at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, and conduct symposia at the Kelly Writers House, where he will also deliver his own talks. This fall he plans to create a class in modern American political writing.
Polman is in negotiations to continue writing for the newspaper, where his most recent title has been national political correspondent. At the Inky, Polman covered four presidential elections, served as London correspondent, the Phillies beat writer and features writer.
Polman launched a blog last month, called Dick Polman's American Debate, at Philly.com. He writes a regular column about national politics in The Inquirer. He talked about continuing to write the blog or the column for the paper.
Inquirer editor Amanda Bennett wrote by email: "We are going to talk very seriously with him. We are very eager to keep his distinctive voice and expertise in the paper. National politics remains important to our paper. We are committed to continuing our aggressive coverage and will look at all options for how we do that."
Polman said that Penn, where he has taught journalism for three years, approached him for a full-time position. The offer became more attractive, he said, after the The Inquirer's fate became less certain. It is one of a dozen papers that McClatchy has said it will sell once it buys the chain from Knight Ridder.
Polman's blog has attracted fast attention on the web. Extreme Mortman wrote about the political columnist's blog-reading habits Monday. Polman described his thinking about the new media this way:
I have become a blog devotee. I dont believe that they should replace some of the habits that are so two years ago - things like actually talking to real human beings - but they are often great tip sheets for measuring mood and tude in the political world. I work with some friends who scoff at blogs and say "nobody is reading them, nobody is reading you," but I keep insisting that they are behind the times. Yes there are many thousands of political blogs, and most of them are probably rant-infested, but I suspect were in an era not totally unlike the early 20th century with the autombile. There were scads of car companies, but over time most died off as consumers gravitated toward the credible ones. Anyway, I get story ideas from the credible blogs of today; I also get links to stories I would not have known about.