Byron Calame, who was an award-winning Wall Street Journal editor and the former public editor of The New York Times, has been named the eighth James H. Ottaway Sr. professor of journalism at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Calame will be introduced to the campus and answer questions about journalism and his career at 5 p.m. on Feb. 12 in the college’s Honors Center.
Calame has joined the faculty this semester to teach a class on ethical issues, focusing in particular on the especially important values of journalism that must be maintained as the press makes a transformation to being delivered to the public more and more via the Internet.
“The change in journalism demands serious new scrutiny about values,” commented New Paltz President Steven Poskanzer, “and so we are delighted that Byron Calame, who for so many years has maintained the highest values of journalism, will lead that discussion for us.”
Calame has worked for 42 years in journalism, rising to become a top editor at the Wall Street Journal, long considered to be one of America’s best newspapers. He worked at the Journal from 1985 to 2004. Calame was the recipient of the 2005 Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award “for exceptional career contributions in the field of business, financial and economic news.”
When he retired from the Journal, he became the Times’ public editor, a position akin to a press critic who writes columns of commentary assessing the paper’s journalistic integrity. The public editor’s column always attracts national attention for its focus on important issues relating to journalistic performance and integrity.
Calame’s class this semester is entitled “Journalism and Integrity.” He said he was hoping to examine “the integrity of today’s journalism, especially that done online, “ with a goal of helping the campus community “better sort out what sources deserve their trust and their time.” In particular, Calame said, he wants to “zero in on the essential ethical and reporting standards that need to be preserved on the Web, if the news provided there is going to have the credibility required of the traditional watchdog role that print journalism has long played.”
Seven well-known journalists have preceded Calame as Ottaway professors. Three have been Pulitzer Prize winners, including former New York Times investigative reporter and columnist Sydney Schanberg; Bernard Stein, an editorial writer with the Riverdale Press in the Bronx; and John Darnton, a former Times foreign correspondent. The other professors were award-winning National Public Radio reporter Ann Cooper, who headed the nation’s foremost advocacy group for the protection of journalists; Roger Kahn, the author of 20 books and one of America’s foremost literary journalists; Trudy Lieberman, one of America’s best consumer reporters; and Martin Gottlieb, who is currently the editor of the International Herald Tribune and an award-winning New York Times reporter.
The Ottaway Professorship is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., which is a coast-to-coast group of 15 dailies, 13 Sunday and more than 18 weeklies and numerous specialty publications and Web sites in nine states. The flagship newspaper of the chain is the Times Herald-Record in Middletown. The professorship was made possible by a gift from James Ottaway Jr.
“We again thank Jim Ottaway for his gift to the college that has allowed us to bring passionate, accomplished, committed professionals to tutor and nurture our journalism students,” said Poskanzer.
Calame is the first Ottaway professor with expertise in business journalism. “Given the financial crisis the country now faces,” Calame commented, it is vital for students “to explore the importance to our society and economy of financial and business news that can be trusted – and what goes into delivering news of such quality.”
Calame joined The Journal in September 1965 and worked as a reporter in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., before becoming a bureau chief in Pittsburgh in 1974. He returned to Los Angeles as bureau chief in September 1978 and in 1985 became an assistant managing editor in charge of West Coast coverage. He returned to New York as a senior editor in 1987, and in May 1992, he became the deputy managing editor.
As the No. 2 person in The Journal news department, Calame’s responsibilities included paper-wide quality control, maintaining and monitoring reporting and ethical standards, and taking charge of the paper in the absence of the managing editor. Upon his retirement from The Journal, Calame served for four months as president of the board of directors of The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund before accepting the public editor position at The Times.
The Penn State College of Communications awarded Calame the 2006 Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism for a series of columns he wrote as public editor of The Times.
In 2002, he was honored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers with its Distinguished Achievement Award. The award cited “his dedication to business journalism and his exemplary performance on September 11, 2001” at The Journal. In June 2005, he received the Elliott V. Bell Award from the New York Financial Writers Association for “a significant long-term contribution to the profession of financial journalism.”
Calame is also the recipient of a 1996 Faculty-Alumni Award from the University of Missouri. He was the Thomas Jefferson Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at the University of Missouri in 1997. In 2004, he became the 55th recipient of the Beta Theta Pi national fraternity’s Oxford Cup award for “distinguished service and accomplishments in his chosen field.”
A native of Missouri, Calame received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland. He is married to Kathryn Calame, who recently retired as professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. They have two grown children.