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
- Stephen Shepard, former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek magazine, now dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York
- Stanley Nelson, MacArthur “genius” Fellow and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker
For more than 40 years the journalism program was housed in the English Department where the late Professor Irving Rosenthal, later dubbed “CCNY’s one-man school of journalism,” served as informal advisor to the student newspaper, The Campus, and taught reporting electives.
The journalism specialization emerged, along with communications more generally, in the late 1970’s as part of President Robert Marshak’s “Urban Educational Model.” The goal was to utilize pre-professional clusters of courses and internships in specific media, including public relations and television, to prepare students to have an impact on the urban scene.
By the time the program got off the ground, it was the fourth undergraduate communications major in CUNY. In 1984, the Communications, Mass Media and Public Policy program left the English Department, and the Film and Video program left the Theater Department to be combined as one new department. About the same time, the college stepped up efforts to open an FM radio station serving the Harlem community, which was to act as a “teaching arm” of the communications program. Under the direction of general manager Angela Harden, WHCR, Harlem Community Radio, continues to serve as a neighborhood resource and a cornerstone of the journalism curriculum.
In 2005, as the field of journalism underwent—and continues to undergo changes and challenges--the program scaled back to “minor” status. As the media landscape evolves, CCNY students of every discipline are encouraged to minor in journalism to develop and sharpen their writing skills and master the art and craft of storytelling in words, sound and images. We hope some of our students will follow in the footsteps of the illustrious journalists who have come before them, while we encourage others to use what they learn in the program to become engaged, involved and successful citizens who shape the public discourse.