October 17, 2005
Robbins, PhilipPhilip Robbins, 74, journalist, professor of journalism, and a leading authority on the First Amendment and freedom of the press, died of pancreatic cancer on Oct. 13, at his home in Elkton, Maryland. Robbins, who lived in Carnelian Bay, Calif. after retirement, dedicated his life to the practice of journalism and the principles of a free press and freedom of information. He spent the early years of his career as a reporter and editor at a number of daily newspapers. As a professor of journalism for 25 years, he trained a generation of print, radio, and television journalists. In his later years, he focused his efforts on the international stage, as ombudsman for international publications and by promoting sound journalistic practices to reporters and media in emerging democracies worldwide.He was instrumental in establishment of a number of libel case law precedents, and in the drafting of Freedom of Information statutes at both the municipal and state levels. Robbins sat on numerous award committees for journalistic practice, as well as receiving many awards himself, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.Robbins received his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1955 and began his career that year as a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun. He moved to the Hopewell, Va. Hopewell Daily News, in 1957, as city editor, where he remained until 1962. From 1962 to 1971, Robbins was the assistant city editor and then metro news editor at the Washington Evening Star in Washington, D.C.Robbins was born in 1931 in Hickman, Kentucky, the third child of Augustus Jr. and Marie Robbins. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) from Washington and Lee University in 1952, and was a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army from 1952-54, where he served overseas in the Korean War.Robbins is survived by his wife of 49 years, Patricia Robbins of Elkton, Md.; daughter Lynn Robbins of Arlington, Va.; daughter Elizabeth Robbins of Annapolis, Md.; son Frederick Robbins of Palo Alto, Calif.; and four grandchildren.Memorial services will be held at Elkton United Methodist Church in Elkton, Md., on October 29 at 2 p.m., and at Mount Olivet Methodist Church in Arlington, Va., on November 19 at 2 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to The Philip Robbins Memorial Fund at The International Center for Journalists (Attn: Nancy Frye), 1616 H Street NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, D.C. 20006.