• J-School’s First Class Graduates

    By Dana Oliver | Last updated on Thursday, December 20th, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    New York Times Assistant Managing Editor Dean Baquet told members of the first graduating class of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism they would have an “absolute blast” as journalists if they apply humanity to their craft.

    Stephen B. Shepard and Dean Baquet
    Stephen B. Shepard and Dean Baquet

    Forty-eight students in the pioneering Class of ’07 received diplomas during a Dec. 18th ceremony in The New York Times auditorium, next door to the journalism school in midtown Manhattan. The ceremony capped an intensive three-semester Master of Arts program that includes a paid summer internship.

    Baquet – a Pulitzer Prize winner who was ousted as editor of the Los Angeles Times last year after refusing to make another round of newsroom cuts – received an honorary doctorate from the school shortly before delivering the commencement address.

    Noting that the media business is in the midst of a period of great change, he shared with students what he called the “great secret” of a fulfilling career in journalism.

    “If you go into journalism and approach it with humanity and not as a crass careerist, you will have more fun, more pure joy than anyone graduating from any place this year,” Baquet, who also is the Times’ Washington bureau chief, told the grads.

    “You will wake up in the morning unsure which new adventure waits. You will see places nobody in your generation will see – distant places, but also the darker corners of the places you live,” he added. “You will meet great writers and thinkers. You will confront moral dilemmas that will force you to grow. You’ll make epic mistakes, I promise you, but things will move so fast that if you own up to them, you will have the chance to fix them.

    “In short, you will have an absolute blast.”

    Speaking for the students was Angela Hill, who vowed that she and her classmates would use the skills they developed and honed at the J-School to help reshape journalism.

    “Watch out, because here we come,” said Hill. “Let’s continue in our pioneering spirit and let’s get ready to turn the world of journalism upside down again!”

    Both Hill and J-School Dean Stephen B. Shepard recalled how construction workers were still busy when the school opened for business on Aug. 30, 2006.

    But the J-School quickly found its footing, establishing itself as major force in teaching a converged, multi-media curriculum in a time of major changes and uncertainty in journalism, Shepard said.

    “We can all take pride in what we have accomplished in short order,” said Shepard, who led the team that put the J-School together in just 17 months.

    CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein echoed his sentiments, recalling how he saw a pressing need to establish what has become the only publicly supported graduate school of journalism in the Northeast.

    “I wanted student of all backgrounds to be able to attend a high-caliber program that was also affordable, right here in New York City, the media capital of the world,” he said. “Well, sometimes you get everything you want and then some.”

    Many of the students already have received offers for jobs and paid full-time internships from media outlets including Bloomberg, NBC Sports, Crain’s New York Business, Forbes, Business Week, MiamiHerald.com, People, Entertainment Weekly, NYPost.com, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, the (Queens) Times Ledger newspapers, City Hall News, the Herald News (West Paterson, N.J.), the Poughkeepsie Journal and Law360.com.

    The 49 students who make up the school’s second class just completed their first semester. In the fulltime 16-month program, students are exposed to storytelling across media formats, and they study a subject concentration, such as business or health reporting. All students work a summer internship, which is subsidized up to $3,000.