Ottaway professor to deliver public speech

NEW PALTZ– The Department of Communication and Media and the State University of New York at New Paltz Foundation present John Larson, award-winning broadcast journalist and the 2011 Ottaway Professor of Journalism. Larson’s address, “Tell a Story, Change the World,” will be held in the Lecture Center, room 108, at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 14.

From the rapidly evolving democratic movements in the Middle East to the changing face of micro-lending, the lesson is clear: There is nothing more powerful than a well-told, true story. John Larson, one of the most awarded broadcast reporters of our time, will discuss how storytelling and journalism builds communities, energizes politics, and changes lives. He will draw on his own experiences telling stories around the world — Katmandu, Iraq, Kenya and the United States. Attendees will also be given a chance to change a life — online.

Larson is the tenth James H. Ottaway Sr. Professor of Journalism at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He is teaching a seminar this semester in storytelling and multimedia journalism.

John Larson has been a correspondent for public television and NBC News. This year, he was part of a team of reporters at KCET in Los Angeles that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for a series of reports that exposed elected representatives who didn’t do their job, and the networks of marijuana distribution – both legal and illegal in California. It was Larson’s fourth DuPont-Coumbia Award – he received previous DuPont Columbia Silver Batons for his reporting on racial profiling, the insurance industry, and Hurricane Katrina. In 2010, John Larson was also awarded the George Foster Peabody Award for his reporting work of the Mexican drug cartels and illegal pot farming in California. He also was awarded two regional Emmy Awards for Best Writer and Best Crime News Reporting.

As West Coast Correspondent for Dateline NBC beginning in 1994, Larson worked on investigative, breaking and feature news reporting for Dateline NBC, NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. His investigation of the insurance industry for Dateline NBC, “The Paper Chase,” received much critical acclaim.

He has won 22 Emmy Awards in all, including two National Emmys for Breaking News Coverage “Houston Floods” and Investigative Journalism “Probable Cause.”

In 2008, Larson co-authored “Television Field Production and Reporting” – a widely distributed college broadcast journalism textbook.

He currently consults for the E.W Scripps Company – teaching and motivating more than 400 working journalists. He speaks regularly at the National Writer’s Workshops, the Poynter Institute, and the National Press Photographers’ National Workshop and local affiliates. He has participated in the Committee of Concerned Journalists, sponsored by the Nieman Foundation of Harvard University.

In 2009, Larson left NBC to work as an international correspondent for public television, contributing to “World Focus,” “Need to Know” and “Southern California Connected.” He also launched his own production company, began training in digital journalism, and began consulting with media companies.

The Ottaway Professorship is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., now the Dow Jones Local Media Group, which operates print and online community media franchises in seven states. The flagship newspaper of the chain is the Times Herald-Record in Middletown.

Nine well-known journalists have preceded Larson as Ottaway professors. Four have been Pulitzer Prize winners, including Renee C. Byer, a photographer for The Sacramento Bee; 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; Byron E. Calame, former public editor of The New York Times and retired deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal; and Martin Gottlieb, the editor of the International Herald Tribune and an award-winning New York Times reporter.

Larson graduated from Colgate University with a major in Philosophy and Religion. He started his career in journalism as a stringer for the Boston Globe. His first broadcast job was at one of the smallest stations in the country: KTUU in Anchorage, Alaska. He then worked for KOMO in Seattle, Washington. From there, he moved on to NBC in Los Angeles. His wife is a high school art teacher. They have two children and live in San Diego, CA.