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May 24, 2007


Student Paper Launched Careers of Many Top New York Journalists

NEW YORK, May 24, 2007 – It was the launching pad for the careers of countless journalists whose bylines would become familiar to generations of New York newspaper readers. Many of these reporters, editors and columnists will gather to salute The Campus, the student newspaper at The City College of New York (CCNY), now in its centennial year, at the CCNY Communications Alumni Group Annual Dinner, May 30, at the National Arts Club.

The newspaper published it first edition September 30, 1907, shortly after the CCNY campus at 138th Street and Convent Avenue opened.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the journalism skills and contacts I acquired while working on The Campus, and I probably wouldn't be reviewing movies today if I hadn’t taken a film survey class at CCNY with the legendary cinephile Herman G. Weinberg,'' said Lou Lumenick, chief film critic at the New York Post.

Mr. Lumenick will be inducted into the CCNY Communications Hall of Fame along with Betsy Frank, ’66, chief research and insights officer, Time Inc., and science writer Ben Patrusky, ’57. Two other alumni, publisher and photographer Ralph Ginzburg, ’49, and Newsday reporter Henry Gilgoff, ’67, will be inducted posthumously. Marvin Kitman, ’53, a former television critic at Newsday and author of the recent book The Man Who Would Not Shut Up: The Rise of Bill O’Reilly will be the keynote speaker.

Many CCNY alumni who went on to work at The New York Times, New York Daily News, Newsday and other top tier media share Mr. Lumenick’s sentiments about the college paper that gave them their starts. “Much of what I learned about journalism I learned at The Campus,” said Michael Oreskes, ’75, executive editor of the International Herald Tribune.  “I learned there was no substitute for going out and doing your own reporting. You never knew what you would learn by visiting someone at his office or talking to someone in the cafeteria.”

Working for The Campus during the turbulent 1970s also gave student reporters opportunities to cut their teeth on controversial stories. “The Campus was my laboratory at time – the early 1970s – when City College was a student journalist’s dream place to be,” recalled Salvatore Arena, ’76, an editor at the time who is now deputy metropolitan editor at the Daily News. “There was not a day without controversy, or so it seemed. Debate raged over the Vietnam War, Open Admissions and the city’s fiscal crisis.”

However, even in calmer times, valuable lessons were learned from working on The Campus.  “It is hard now for me to recall the big stories then (1960s), but I am crystal clear when it comes to remembering the mentoring I received from The Campus,” said Clyde Haberman, ’66, a columnist with The Times.  “Much of what I am as a journalist was shaped by my Campus experience – everything from how to go about reporting a story to editing copy to upholding standards of accuracy and fairness.”

A younger generation of journalists is benefiting from experienced gained working on The Campus, as well. “The Campus developed my skills,” said Wil Cruz, ’02, a former Newsday reporter who now serves as communications director for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “I tell younger journalists how important it is to have writing and reporting skills to fall back on when the pressure starts to build on deadline.”

The Communications Alumni Group is working to keep The Campus’ traditions alive. In addition to partnering with the newspaper on its own centennial celebration, “we have developed a dialogue with the staff and its advisory, Professor Philip Kay, to revitalize the publication,” says Sam Gronner, ’70, who is co-president of the Communications Alumni Group along with Esther Tolkoff, ’68. Mr. Gronner adds that the group is encouraging its members to serve as mentors.

For the current Campus staff, having so many distinguished alumni is both inspiring and a bit intimidating. “I personally am so proud of the tradition of our newspaper,” said Annie Deng, the current editor-in-chief of The Campus. “It is an immense responsibility when you think back and contemplate the extent of greatness that has risen from our organization. Sometimes it’s really hard to think about how we can work to put out a paper worthy of them.”