In an effort to help build a future for journalism in the face of massive cutbacks in newsrooms nationwide, the Harnisch Foundation has donated $1 million to the new Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions at Baruch College.
The grant will be evenly divided between two new projects: A state of the art multimedia newsroom/classroom for the journalism students and for department programs, and the creation of a consortium that will, in part, collaborate with leading journalism and educational institutions to help protect and advance journalism during this period of transition.
Baruch College President Kathleen Waldron said, “This gift puts Baruch College in the vanguard of 21st century journalism education. It is an investment in our students and faculty, in their chosen profession, and their future careers. I commend Bill and Ruth Ann Harnisch both for their vision and their generosity.”
Philanthropists Ruth Ann and William (’68) Harnisch call this gift a “bold investment” intended to “produce returns that we can’t yet imagine.” The Harnisches have previously donated funds to support scholarships for Honors students and journalism students.
A self-described “recovering journalist” who spent three decades working in newspapers, TV and radio, Ruth Ann says that she is deeply concerned about the decline of “ethically gathered, responsible journalism for intelligent consumers” and that currently, the medium is “transforming faster than the industry can understand.”
Bill, who is the CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Peconic Partners, is also a Trustee of The Baruch College Fund and a member of Baruch’s investment committee.
The new classroom, called “Studio H,” will be located in the journalism department on the seventh floor of the Newman Vertical Campus building. “Studio H” will include 24 workspaces fully equipped with computers, as well as video and digital cameras, and sound-recording equipment. Additionally, it will have comprehensive, state-of-the-art, high-quality multimedia presentation capabilities. It is expected to open in the 2009-10 academic year.
For its part, the consortium will be developed to:
*Support original news reporting.
*Encourage more “citizen” journalism by improving the quality of public participation in newsgathering and publication.
*Help print journalists find training and resources to go forward in the profession.
Geanne Rosenberg, associate professor and chair of Baruch’s Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions, said, “Through this gift, they are supporting Baruch students, Baruch’s journalism department, the future of journalism, public education and, really, free society, because that can’t exist without a robust and independent press.”
Long a program within the Department of English, journalism attained departmental status within the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences last summer. There are 11 full-time faculty members and approximately 100 journalism majors. Some of the areas of concentration and courses available to students include creative nonfiction, business journalism, urban reporting, documentary film, broadcast journalism, and environmental reporting.