Honoring the 2017 Manship School Hall of Fame Class

The Manship School of Mass Communication honored alumni Lou Gehrig Burnett, veteran Capitol Hill communications chief, political pundit and independent publisher; Marie Bissell Constantin, internationally known still photographer and author; and Alex Martin, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor at the Wall Street Journal, at its 43rd annual Hall of Fame gala on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Find out more about this year's honorees below.

Lou Gehrig Burnett
Burnett, a native of Houma, La., graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1963 and a master’s degree in journalism in 1965 from LSU. Out of high school, Burnett enrolled at Nicholls State College, where fellow Manship Hall of Fame member Al Delahaye convinced him to study journalism and became his mentor. He became the first sophomore to be named editor of the Nicholls Worth, the college newspaper. After two years at Nicholls, he transferred to LSU, where he served as sports editor, managing editor for two terms and editor of The Daily Reveille.

Following graduation, he was offered the job of press secretary by U.S. Rep. F. Edward Hebert of New Orleans, having been recommended by Journalism School Dean Frank Price. Hebert was fascinated with Burnett being named after Lou Gehrig. Hebert, when he was a young sports reporter, was at the game when Lou Gehrig took over first base for the Yankees for the first time. Being named “Lou Gehrig” locked up the job for Burnett. When he went to work for Hebert on Jan. 3, 1966, the congressman, at the time, was considered one of the most powerful men in America because of his position on the House Armed Services Committee. Burnett served as his press secretary and confidant until Hebert retired in January 1977.

Burnett then became chief-of-staff for U.S. Rep. Jerry Huckaby, who had defeated 30-year incumbent U.S. Rep. Otto Passman in the 1976 elections. Huckaby hired Burnett after being urged to do so by then U.S. Reps. Joe D. Waggonner and Henson Moore. He ran the Washington office and two district offices for Huckaby, was his principal advisor, and raised money for his campaign fund – and handled the news media. He served as chief-of-staff for the entire 16 years Huckaby was in Congress. For his service on Capitol Hill, Burnett was named to Personalities of the South and Who’s Who in American Politics.

Burnett retired from the federal government on Jan. 3, 1993, after 27 years on Capitol Hill. He moved to Shreveport, where he wrote a column for the Bossier Press-Tribune and 13 other newspapers in north Louisiana. In 1997-98, he was tapped to serve as executive assistant to Shreveport Mayor Robert “Bo” Williams. In 1999, he became a political columnist for the Forum News, a Shreveport publication where he is now the senior political columnist and is known as the “political voice” of Shreveport. In both 2002 and 2005, his column was selected Best Column.

Burnett also has published a political newsletter called the Fax-Net Update since 2000. It has an influential readership of more than 3,000 each week in 17 Louisiana cities and 15 states. He has served as a political analyst for KTAL-TV, KSLA-TV and KTBS-TV; does special broadcasts for Comcast Cable political shows; and serves on the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame Foundation Board, which selects inductees for the Hall of Fame Museum in Winnfield, La., and served on the Political Hall of Fame Committee. 

Marie Bissell Constantin
Constantin received a bachelor’s degree in general studies in 1980 and a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1986 from LSU. Constantin, an American still photographer, became internationally known for her photographic works of the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta, when the Vatican chose one of her photos to hang in St. Peter’s Square for Mother Teresa’s 2003 Beatification Ceremony. The photo was unveiled in front of more than 300,000 people. During the celebrations Charles Osgood, with “CBS Sunday Morning,” featured Constantin in a 6-minute piece that showed more than 25 black-and-white photos Constantin made over a 13-year period.

A native of Hartford, Conn., Constantin attended LSU, graduating with a journalism degree, yet she did not own a camera until the age of 32. Today, she is in demand for commercial, corporate, editorial and humanitarian assignments. While Constantin's commercial work takes her to industrial plants, hospitals and a host of hometown businesses in Baton Rouge, it’s her personal work that took her to some of the world's worst slums – Calcutta, Haiti, Nicaragua and Tijuana – where she photographed or worked alongside of Catholic nuns working with the poor.

When the late Mother Teresa was alive, Constantin was invited to travel with an entourage capturing images of Mother Teresa and the sisters during the sister’s vows ceremonies, and then afterwards in rare private moments behind the scenes. While Constantin’s travels were for the purpose of giving the sisters photos of the ceremonies to send back home, she wanted to become a nun. This was a good way for her to explore that path and maintain privacy while doing so. Even though she made three “Come-and Sees,” short live-in stints with the order, Constantin never joined, but continued working with Catholic nuns who gave services to the poor.

Since the Beatification, Constantin’s images of Mother Teresa have appeared in numerous venues, including museums, for the public to enjoy. Constantin just finished writing a chronicle of her experiences as a photographer and seeker. “Finding Calcutta:  Memoirs of a Photographer,” is a love story about the work of nuns. 

Alex Martin
Martin, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1981 from LSU, serves as the deputy managing editor/editor for news at The Wall Street Journal. Martin, a New Orleans native, began his professional career at the nearby St. Francisville Democrat. He returned to his hometown as a reporter for the Times-Picayune, where he spent eight years and honed his skills as a distinguished news and feature writer.

Martin became the first in his family to leave Louisiana, when he took a job as a reporter at Newsday in 1989. He slowly came to embrace life as a New Yorker, but always maintained close ties to his home state, educating his colleagues about King Cakes and his great-uncles who invented the po'boy. In 1991, Martin moved to editing and established a reputation as one of the top wordsmiths and story editors at the paper. As Long Island editor in 1996, he led the Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800.

In 2000, he became assistant managing editor for Long Island, then assistant managing editor for features in 2003, and assistant managing editor for investigations in 2004. Moved by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he returned to New Orleans in 2005 and filed a series of first-person, front-page columns that included visits to his alma mater, Holy Cross School and the street where he had grown up.

Martin joined The Wall Street Journal in 2005 as deputy editor of the marketplace section. He was tapped as a deputy page one editor, then U.S. news editor. By 2012, he was on the masthead as deputy managing editor for Page One. Then, this January, as the journal accelerated its efforts to become a digital-first news organization, it turned to Martin to help drive the shift as editor for news. The boy from New Orleans is uniquely qualified for the job, which requires an equal measure of sweet-talking and brow-beating to herd a global news organization through the challenges of a new media future.    

photo: 2017 Hall of Fame Honorees and Dean Jerry CepposMarie Bissell Constantin, Lou Gehrig Burnett, Alex Martin and Manship School Dean Jerry Ceppos

The Manship School thanks all of the event’s sponsors that make the Hall of Fame Gala possible, including the family of Mike Dunne, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, Franklin, Press Club of Baton Rouge, Creative Communications Inc., deGavelles & Associates, Lambert Media, Louisiana Radio Network and Tiger Rag Magazine, LSU Alumni Association, Peter Kovacs, Public Relations Society of America – Baton Rouge Chapter and Public Relations Association of Louisiana.

The 2017 Hall of Fame Committee was chaired by Randy Hayden and Marica Vlahos and other members include Ernie Ballard, Chris Ballay, Tristi Charpentier, Chelsea Costanza, Emily Davenport, Bob Johannessen, Venessa Lewis, Nancy Malone, Darin Mann and Bill Sherman.