A Dear Friend Gets Knighted

Aly Colón.

I publicly celebrate the below announcement from Washington and Lee University because it’s about a close friend. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Aly Colón for nearly a quarter century. Not only have I greatly valued our friendship, I’ve witnessed uncommon grace and integrity no matter the personal and professional circumstances.

Aly will become the next John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Media Ethics at Washington and Lee. I could not be more pleased for my friend and his family.

Yes, I had a little fun with the title of this post. But there is more than a kernel of truth contained within the title. One definition of “knight” is this: “a defender, champion, or zealous upholder of a cause or principle.”

That certainly fits Aly, an enthusiastic and generous champion of media ethics, diversity and journalism throughout a long twisting career.

The news release (edited):

New Knight Chair in Media Ethics Announced at W&L

Aly Colón, director of standards and practices at NBC News and assigned to Telemundo Network News, will become the next John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Media Ethics at Washington and Lee University.

Colón is a veteran journalist and former ethics group leader at the prestigious Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he taught and oversaw ethics training for young and mid-career journalists. He has also consulted for and trained journalists in numerous newsrooms throughout the United States.

“Aly Colón will make a strong program stronger,” said Journalism Department Head Pamela K. Luecke. “Ethics has been a cornerstone of our department for four decades, and we look forward to the rich learning opportunities Aly will offer our students.”

At Washington and Lee, Colón will teach the required Journalism Ethics and Media Ethics, as well as other courses. He will also organize and lead the department’s semiannual Ethics Institutes, at which visiting journalists, other mass communications professionals and students discuss ethics case studies from the professionals’ own careers. Many undergraduates cite the Institutes as among their most rewarding learning experiences at Washington and Lee.

“I am excited about joining the faculty in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, and I welcome the opportunity to contribute to its fine tradition of outstanding undergraduate teaching and professional outreach,” Colón said. “I am especially eager to work with the University’s new interdisciplinary Mudd Center to explore the connections and challenges of applied ethics in several professions.”

Read the entire announcement


In addition to being a good friend, Aly has been a faithful mentor to me through the years when I didn’t feel like a writer, or like much of one. He has always encouraged me, and has always been someone I turned to when I needed advice on anything related to writing and storytelling. He edited my first book when he had more important things to do, but he wanted to make that investment of time and expertise on my behalf. So Washington and Lee is fortunate in yet one more way, with this newest addition to its esteemed faculty. Aly starts on July 1.


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