Stony Brook University announced today the establishment of New York State’s first undergraduate School of Journalism at a public university. The new School, which will begin offering a Bachelor’s degree program in the Fall 2006 semester, will offer one of the nation’s first courses in News Literacy, designed to help students use their critical thinking skills to judge the credibility and reliability of the news.
The announcement was made by Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny, the University’s president, who also said that Howard Schneider, former editor and managing editor of Newsday, has been appointed Founding Dean of the new Journalism School. During his 17-year tenure in those positions, Newsday captured eight Pulitzer Prizes.
“Our Journalism School fills a large gap in undergraduate public education in the State,” said Dr. Kenny. “For the first time, students will be able to attend a publicly-supported undergraduate School of Journalism in either the SUNY or CUNY system. Having Stony Brook as its home provides the opportunity to combine a first-class journalism education with the study of liberal arts and sciences at one of the world’s leading public research universities.”
Several other colleges in the state system offer journalism majors, some as part of other departments. CUNY is launching a graduate school of journalism in the Fall.
Dr. Kenny noted that the an important element of the new School is the Advisory Board, a group of alumni and award-winning current and former TV, radio, and print journalists from such media outlets as The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday, Bloomberg News, ABC, CBS, NBC, Cablevision’s News 12 Long Island, and Time Warner’s NY1 News who will provide guidance and encouragement as the school moves forward.
Schneider explained that the time is ideal for the new School. “The media world is in the midst of a revolution. Digital technology is disseminating a flood of information – and disinformation – every day,” he said. “Never before has there been a greater need for independent-minded, thoughtful, and well-trained journalism graduates. This is the School’s mission.”
He noted that the School has a second mission. “Students who have a passion and aspire to a career in journalism but who can’t afford the tuition at private universities will no longer be shut out of a top-flight journalism program. More than half the students at Stony Brook are the first in their families to attend college. Many of them have the tenacity and intelligence to be terrific journalists. They need to be a part of the media’s future.”
Schneider noted that the Journalism School will offer one of the most comprehensive and innovative programs in the nation. Students will be required to earn 47 credits in journalism, a number that is believed to be one of the highest in the nation (typically, programs require 30-36 credits within the journalism major). Students also will need to earn an additional 80 credits outside the journalism core, including required courses in one of four multi-disciplinary concentrations drawn from across campus: Global Issues and Perspectives, Public Affairs, Society and Diversity, and Science and the Environment.
“We think this will be one of the most exciting undergraduate journalism programs in the country,” Schneider said. “The emphasis will be on fundamentals and innovation. Every student will graduate with a passion for the public interest and the courage to do the right thing in the face of unprecedented media competition.”
Kinsey Wilson, an executive editor of USA Today and USAToday.com who is serving on the School’s Advisory Board, concurred: “Technology is transforming the way people consume news and information. Stony Brook’s program promises to combine journalism fundamentals with a forward-looking approach that will define how journalism is practiced in the future.”
Students will study reporting, writing, producing, editing, and ethics and be prepared for an evolving multi-media future. All students will take courses in broadcast, print, and online journalism, as well as the unique News Literacy course. They also will be required to participate in a special Writing Immersion laboratory before advancing in the program. In addition, they will have internship opportunities at major media outlets on Long Island and throughout New York City.
The University is engaged in a national search for faculty to help direct key aspects of the program, with the goal of having at least four full-time and six adjuncts in place by the Fall of 2007. Several adjuncts are already in place for this Fall, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert W. Greene and eight-time Emmy Award winning journalist Doug Geed. Greene is former assistant managing editor and investigations editor at Newsday and former president of Investigative Reporters and Editors. Geed is an anchor, reporter, producer and host of the Emmy Award winning program “The East End Show” on News 12 Long Island.
The University is planning the construction of a “newsroom of the future” on campus, which will serve as the program’s primary teaching space. As envisioned, it will allow students to work across all media platforms and replicate the environment of a fast-paced, multi-media newsroom. Students will be able to distribute their work to traditional outlets, as well as to consumer devices ranging from cell phones to set-top boxes. The “newsroom of the future” will be linked virtually to smaller newsrooms planned for the University’s Manhattan and Southampton campuses.
“This is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious programs in journalism education,” said Greene, an Advisory Board member. “It anticipates the needs of tomorrow’s world, where news professionals need to be skilled in more than one medium, and teaches students to approach the news process with courage, intelligence, and an ethical imperative.”
In addition to Wilson and Greene, the other Advisory Board members are: William Ahearn, executive editor, Bloomberg News; Tom Bettag, executive producer, The Koppel Group, Discovery Network and former executive producer, ABC’s “Nightline”; Joye Brown, columnist, Newsday; Ann Cooper, former executive director, The Committee to Protect Journalists; Pat Dolan, news director, News 12 Long Island; Scott Higham, a Stony Brook alumnus and Pulitzer-winning reporter, The Washington Post; Richard Hornik, former economics correspondent and editor, Time, Inc; Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor, The New York Times; Dave Laventhol, former publisher, Los Angeles Times and Newsday and former president, Times Mirror Co.; Marcy McGinnis, former senior vice president, CBS News; Arlene Morgan, associate dean, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and former assistant managing editor, Philadelphia Inquirer; Steve Paulus, senior vice president and general manager of news and programming, New York 1 News; Ira Rosen, producer, “60 Minutes” and former senior producer for investigations, ABC’s “Prime Time Live”; and Daniel Slepian, a Stony Brook alumnus and producer, NBC News’ Dateline.
Schneider, the Founding Dean, was a reporter and editor at Newsday for 35 years. He has been a member of the Pulitzer Prize judging panel three times. In 2003, he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Association.
For the past year, he has been working with Dr. Kenny, Stony Brook’s Provost Robert McGrath, and faculty committees on campus to shape the new School’s mission and develop its curriculum. The New York State Department of Education approved the new major in June. The program will incorporate an existing minor program that has been headed by Paul Schreiber, a veteran reporter and editor at Newsday and the Miami Herald. Schreiber will be a key member of the new School’s adjunct faculty.
More than 100 students are already registered to take journalism courses in the Fall, and it is anticipated that several hundred will declare it as a major over the next five years.
Enrollment in the nation’s journalism schools grew almost 30 percent between 1999 and 2004, according to a survey by the University of Georgia’s James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communications and Research. Moreover, the UCLA Higher Education Institute reported recently that journalism is the third most popular major in the arts and humanities, after fine and performing arts and English.