NEW PALTZ — NOTICE TO EDITORS: Bernard Stein will be the guest of honor at a reception and media availability at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24 in Room 54 of the Coykendall Science Building.
Bernard L. Stein, who won the Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 1998 for his elegant editorials, will be named the second James H. Ottaway Sr. Professor of Journalism at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Stein is the co-publisher and editor of the Riverdale Press, a weekly newspaper covering the New York City neighborhoods of the Northwest Bronx that has become one of the best-known and most-honored community newspapers in the nation.
The university’s Acting President and Provost David Lavallee made the announcement, citing Stein’s “distinguished record and distinct voice as a practitioner of community journalism.” Lavallee noted that Stein provides students a “wonderful local voice on issues,” and that he is a perfect follow-up to last year’s Ottaway fellow, Sydney Schanberg, also a Pulitzer Prize winner for his reporting on international events and issues.
Stein, 60, will teach a course this spring in the university’s Journalism Program and lead a series of workshops and seminars.
“I hope to persuade my students that journalists have a crucial role to play in keeping our democracy vital,” Stein said in accepting the position. He noted that young journalists need to learn to write in a way that “emboldens readers to voice their opinions and join together to take action.”
In praising the choice of Stein, the chair of the university’s Department of Communication and Media, Lynn Spangler, cited his “integrity, passion, and community consciousness.”
Howard Good, a professor of journalism, observed that Stein will teach students “not only about graceful editorial writing, but also about the public service a newspaper can perform for its community.”
The James H. Ottaway Sr. Professorship is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc., which is now a coast-to-coast group of 19 daily, 13 Sunday and more than 30 weekly newspapers with a total circulation of 555,587. The flagship newspaper of the chain is the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y.
The donation to create the professorship was made by his son, Jim Ottaway Jr., who succeeded his father as the company’s chief executive officer in 1976. James Ottaway Sr. died in January at the age of 88. Ottaway Sr. was a founder of the American Press Institute, an industry education center in Reston, Va., and received its first lifetime achievement award in 1996.
“My father encouraged aggressive and challenging editorial opinions in Ottaway newspapers, and would have admired Buddy Stein’s editorials in his Riverdale Press,” Ottaway Jr. said. “My father began his career as editor and publisher of the weekly Endicott Bulletin in upstate New York, and would be very pleased to know that Buddy Stein, one of the best weekly newspaper editors of our times, will be teaching the principles of personal, community journalism to students at SUNY New Paltz.”
Stein won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1998, capping a journalistic career that has brought more than 350 state and national awards for excellence to the newspaper since he succeeded his father as its editor in 1978 and co-publisher in 1980. Awards have included the James Wright Brown Public Service Award, the highest honor of New York City’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The New York Press Association has named the paper the best in New York State eight times; the National Newspaper Association has honored it as the best-written weekly in the nation twice.
Stein was New York’s Writer of the Year in 1985 and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing in 1987 and 1988. In 1989, the Press office was destroyed by firebombs in retaliation for an editorial defending the right to read the novel “The Satanic Verses.” The national Society of Professional Journalists honored Bernard Stein and his brother Richard with its First Amendment Award for “exceptional efforts by individuals and institutions to preserve the rights of free speech and free press.”
“Our students will learn from his experiences not only how to be better writers,” said Spangler, “but also about the courage it takes to be journalists sometimes.”
Stein’s editorials have also been honored by the Education Writers of America, the National Newspaper Association, the New York Press Association and the United Federation of Teachers. Manhattan College in Riverdale bestowed honorary doctor of humane letters degrees on the Stein brothers in 1999.
Stein earned his bachelor’s degree in literature at Columbia University. He continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was active in the civil rights, student and anti-war movements. As a participant in the Free Speech Movement, he was arrested in the sit-in in the university’s administration building. He helped to found the Berkeley chapter of Students for a Democratic Society and founded a Freedom School in the West Oakland ghetto.
For 12 years after leaving graduate school and before returning to Riverdale, he was part of a team of scholars editing Mark Twain’s writing for publication by the University of California Press. He became the edition’s textual bibliographer, contributing to 19 volumes of letters, notebooks, and literary works, including “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” which he edited.
He lives in Riverdale with his wife Marguerite Adams, a landscape designer. He has one daughter.
A PHOTO OF BERNARD STEIN is available online at www.newpaltz.edu/news/images/stein.html