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Communication & Media

News & Events

New professor joins journalism staff


By Saadia Rafiq, Contributing Writer

The bright red baseball championship pennant on Rebecca Leung's office wall of Coykendall Science Building 46 shows that she is Los Angeles Angels fan. Leung, assistant professor of Journalism is a new addition to the Communication and Media Department at SUNY New Paltz. As a devoted Angels fan, she brought her rally monkey and wore her team's shirt during the playoffs. Leung, originally from southern California said, smiling, ''I have been a long time Angels fan since they were known as the California Angels, more than 20 years ago.''

Behind her desk there are photos of the different places she has traveled to, such as Tibet, China, Mexico, Egypt and Turkey. She has visited Egypt, and especially loves Cairo.

''My favorite memory was taking a 10-hour local train ride through Egypt in a small overnight car. I arrived in Giza, just outside of Cairo, and I caught a glimpse of the Pyramids at sunrise, which was really beautiful,'' she explained, her hands motioning, a smile on her face. She said that Istanbul, Turkey is also one of the most fascinating places because it is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Europe and Asia.

''I love to travel and explore music from all cultures,'' said Leung.

She is a big jazz fan and goes to New York City jazz clubs with her friends. Her favorite jazz musicians are John Coltrane and Julian ''Cannonball'' Adderley, both jazz saxophonists made famous in the 50s and 60s.

She was also an active member in her high school newspaper. Leung's advisor, who was an LA Times sportswriter, encouraged her to continue writing, especially in college. Leung has received her B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley and her M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. ''I was lucky to have great professors who inspired and encouraged me to become a journalist,'' she said.

Leung's work experiences includes working for, ABC News Online and CBS. Her experience as a senior editor and product manager at, an online business news site, gave her a good chance to learn about the business aspect of journalism.

At ABC News, she filed reports on location, and created multimedia packages on the New York Police Department's shooting of the African immigrant Amadou Diallo, the execution of Texas death row prisoner Karla Faye Tucker, the 2000 Census, California's debate over bilingual education, and the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas.

At CBS News, she was responsible for producing multimedia content for 60 Minutes, 60 Minutes II and 48 Hours. She said, ''I had the opportunity to create multimedia reports for major news events including the war in Iraq, the 2004 U.S. presidential election, the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.''

''She is a well trained and experienced journalist, and students can learn a lot from her,'' Yusuke Takano, journalism student said. ''I like to listen to what she has done before, and it inspires me to do work with passion.''

Leung's goal is to teach students to develop strong reporting skills and encourage them to illustrate their stories using variety media tools. She is teaching journalism I and feature writing this semester.

''She is knowledgeable in many fields of journalism including broadcasting,'' said Amanda Cassandra, senior and journalism major. ''I feel as though you can always talk to her as a friend who gives honest advice and she is an invaluable resource.''

Leung also helped with a workshop funded by the Ford Foundation at Columbia University that honors excellence in reporting on issues of race and ethnicity.

Howard Good, professor of journalism, said, ''We're very excited to have Professor Leung as a new colleague. With her experience in online journalism, we are counting on her to help lead the program to the promised land of online reporting, Web publishing, and so on. She brings to the classroom new energy and fresh perspective as well as years of working in journalism at top-notch news organizations.''