MICHAEL BERRYHILL has been associate professor and chair of journalism at Texas Southern University since 2010.
Before returning to teaching in 2006, he spent 25 years as a writer and editor at several Texas publications, including the Houston Chronicle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, D Magazine, Houston City Magazine and Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. He teaches courses in advanced reporting, editing and literary journalism for graduate students. He is especially interested in long-form writing of magazine articles and books.
In 2011 the University of Texas Press published his book, The Trials of Eroy Brown, the Murder Case that Shook the Texas Prison System. The book told the story of how a black inmate was acquitted of killing two white prison officials by reason of self-defense. It describes three sensational murder trials wrapped up in a long-running civil rights trial about conditions in Texas prisons. A panel of three historians for the Philosophical Society of Texas named it the best nonfiction book about Texas for 2012.
Berryhill has recently published opinion pieces with the Houston Chronicle and a long narrative piece on the parole process with the criminal justice blog Grits for Breakfast. In addition to writing about criminal justice, he is interested environmental issues. In August 2012 his narrative on the endangered whooping crane appeared in Texas Monthly. The article will be part of a book of personal essays on the Texas coast.
“Teaching writing is the best part of my job,” he says, “the thing I like to do best. I think of myself as a writing coach. I like to help students develop their skills and confidence. The students do the writing, and I act as an editor. I teach professional standards and practical ways of developing as a journalist. It comes from real-world experience.”
Before coming to TSU, Berryhill taught journalism for four years at the University of Houston. He grew up in Houston, where he attended Milby High School. After earning his bachelor’s degree in English at Kenyon College, he took his doctorate in American studies at the University of Minnesota. He taught American literature and creative writing at Vassar College for three years followed by a year as a Fulbright Jr. Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Lyon II, France. He also taught journalism for a year at Southern Methodist University before becoming a full-time journalist.
His freelance articles have appeared in many magazines, including The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Harper’s, The New Republic, Vogue and Sports Illustrated. Berryhill has also published poems in The New American Review, Western Humanities Review and the Paris Review, as well as in two chapbooks from Inleaf Press. He feels that writing poetry improves his prose. He is known to recite poems in class to teach students the rhythms of English.
Berryhill has recently launched a new blog, Journalism at TSU, on which he will post news and opinion. The link is: https://tsujournalism.wordpress.com