Bragging Rights–Journalism Program

jasmine villarosa

Dr. Lisa, the president of City College, recently asked me and other program directors to offer a cheat sheet so she could “brag” about all the great stuff that’s happening here at CCNY. Here’s what I said about our journalism program:

Journalism at City College

Several years ago, the CCNY journalism program underwent a “makeover.” Since then, journalism has blossomed into one of the fastest growing programs at CCNY. Students from various disciplines—from MCA to psychology to engineering—are now mentoring in journalism. All of the prerequisite courses are at overflow capacity with students waiting to get in. To accommodate the popularity of the discipline, we have created a heat-seeking new summer course: The Media, Celebrity and Fame in the Age of the Internet.

The storied Campus newspaper, the oldest student-run publication in the CUNY system, has also been brought under the wing of the journalism program. Beginning this spring, the newspaper will re-launch with journalism students providing content for the website, and working with the student reporters and editors on the print edition.

About the Program

In the dynamic, fast-changing media landscape, our goal is to teach students the values, traditions and skills to practice the art and craft of journalism. They learn to ask questions, gather information, understand the news cycle and shape the public conversation. They are taught to organize and present information in clear, compelling, creative ways across various media platforms.

The CCNY journalism program is a minor, which allows flexibility and options. Some students become professional journalists–reporters, columnists, authors, magazine editors, producers, documentary filmmakers, and digital specialists—at media outlets across the country and around the world. In the past year, City College students have interned at CNN, The New York Daily News, ABC-News, Fox News, New York 1 and Reuters, to name a few.

Others continue to graduate school for deeper, more concentrated training. And still others learn to think and write like journalists and take their training and into fields like public relations, advertising, medicine, science, law, government, teaching, politics, business and the arts.

Community Ties

Linda Villarosa, an author and former New York Times editor and reporter and Essence magazine executive, was hired in 2009 to run the program. Since then, she and her colleagues Angela Harden and David Diaz have created strong links to the New York media community. Over the past year, journalists from CNN, NPR, The New York Times, Daily News, Essence and Glamour magazines, NY1, Fox-News, BET and PBS (WNET filmmaker Jennifer Callahan shown here lecturing) have visited CCNY journalism classes. 

The journalism program has also established vital connections with Harlem community organizations. Last semester, in association with the Harlem Health Promotion Center, Introduction to Journalism and Reporting and Writing students examined the physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental health of the Harlem community. They wrote about HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, nutrition, exercise, community gardens, urban farming, and other community health and wellness issues, using local residents, professionals and organizations as their sources.

WHCR, the FM radio station run by Professor Harden, offers the strongest example of local community engagement. A CCNY alum, Harden and her students—along with local volunteers—run the station which seeks to empower listeners with educational and cultural programming. Last year, the WHCR was redesigned and expanded with a $1.7 million facelift intended to boost service to listeners in Upper Manhattan. 

The third member of the faculty, Professor Diaz, also has strong community ties and takes service seriously. For many years, the Emmy Award-winning Diaz was the face of New York’s TV news. Now a distinguished lecturer in journalism, Diaz also hosts Insight Nueva York, a program that offers political news from the Latino perspective. That show’s parent company, HITN, has offered numerous internship opportunities to CCNY students.

Illustrious Journalistic DNA

The re-invented journalism program builds on CCNY’s storied journalism history. For over a century, City College has been the home of a vigorous student press and incubator of prominent journalists. Some of the many include:

Upton Sinclair, progressive, muckraking journalist and Pulitzer-Prize winning author

A.M. Rosenthal, former New York Times executive editor

Michael Oreskes, Associated Press senior managing editor

Stanley Nelson, MacArthur “genius” Fellow and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker

The journalism alumni have a strong relationship with our program and frequently give back. Former Businessweek editor, Stephen B. Shepard, (CCNY ’61) hosts groups of City College students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism where he is now the dean. Last semester, 40-year veteran New York Times sportswriter Gerald Eskenazi, below (CCNY ’59) described to a group of CCNY journalism students how he first got his job at the Times:  “I went in for the interview and the guy doing the hiring asked me one question: Do you work on your school newspaper? I said yes, and I was hired.”