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Communication & Media

News & Events

Consumer reporter named visiting Ottaway professor of journalism

10/16/2006

NEW PALTZ -- Award-winning reporter Trudy Lieberman, who is considered one of the best consumer reporters in America, has been named the sixth James H. Ottaway Sr. Professor of Journalism, the State University of New York at New Paltz announced today.

Lieberman has been an investigative reporter for 35 years and is one of the nation’s foremost experts on health care, focusing especially on the lack of health insurance for Americans and on medical care for the elderly.

Lieberman, who was a Fulbright Scholar in 1993, is a frequent contributor to the Columbia Journalism Review, the nation’s premier magazine of media criticism, and to The Nation magazine, a prominent progressive magazine of commentary. She also has written numerous articles as a health columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

In making the announcement, College President Steven Poskanzer pointed out how Lieberman “continues the college’s tradition of bringing to campus journalists with a commitment to important issues.” He added, “She proves once again what journalism can be when at its best.” Poskanzer thanked James Ottaway Jr. for his gift six years ago that has enabled the college to bring well-known professionals to the campus to teach.

Lieberman will join the faculty for the spring semester, teaching a course, titled "The Media and the Marketplace.” She will examine how media organizations function as profit-making institutions and yet still try to preserve their role as watchdogs for the public interest.

Lieberman will meet the press and answer questions from faculty and students at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19, in the college’s Honors Center in College Hall. The public is invited to attend.

The Ottaway Professorship is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., which is now 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.

Five famous journalists have preceded Lieberman. Three have been Pulitzer Prize winners, including former New York Times investigative reporter 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, and Roger Kahn, the author of 19 books and one of America’s foremost literary journalists.

Journalism professor Robert Miraldi, who has worked closely with all of the Ottaway professors, observed that Lieberman brings “a new element to our campus – the consumer reporter.” The previous professors, Dr. Miraldi pointed out, have ranged from editorial writers to investigative reporters. “But Lieberman brings an old tradition to campus – the journalist who looks out for the consumer and exposes when the marketers try to dupe and delude the people.”

Lieberman has a rich history as a consumer reporter. She was one of the nation’s first full-time consumer reporters for the Detroit Free Press from 1968 to 1976. Her stories led to various reforms of Michigan state laws.

For nearly 30 years she worked for Consumer Reports, a nonprofit magazine with a four million circulation. The magazine often tests products on its own and reports on the flaws. It differs from much of journalism in that it does not rely solely on other sources for its conclusions; the magazine also accepts no advertising. Lieberman was the magazine’s health policy editor and senior economics writer. She also was director of the Center for Consumer Health Choices at Consumers Union, the magazine’s parent group.

Lieberman, who is the author of five books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, was awarded a John J. McCloy Fellowship to study German health care in 1994. The following year she was named Fulbright Senior Scholar to study Japanese health care.

Patricia Sullivan, chair of the Communication and Media Department, called the choice of Lieberman “another enrichment to our programs. She is a seasoned professional who has and continues to do important work and who will show our students what journalism can do to improve and reform a market-based society.”

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Note to Editors: A photograph of Trudy Lieberman is available on the SUNY New Paltz Web site at www.newpaltz.edu/news/images/Lieberman.html.

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