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Advisory Board Members Make Generous Gifts to Support Scholarships

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

Roz Abrams

Two members of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Board of Advisers have made generous financial gifts to provide scholarships for deserving students.

Roz Abrams, a longtime television news anchor in New York City, has agreed to underwrite a full-tuition scholarship for one student each year for the next 10 years. Recipients will be called Roz Abrams Scholars and will be chosen with the aim of bringing diversity to the journalism profession.

The other donation, from Journal Register Company CEO John Paton, will help support two students in the J-School’s new entrepreneurial journalism program in each of the next five years. Paton has established the “J. Douglas Creighton Scholarship Fund” in memory of his mentor, a founder of the Sun

John Paton
Media Corporation, who died in January 2004. Paton started as a copy boy and eventually rose to publisher at the Sun chain.

“Doug Creighton was a remarkable journalist who built the largest newspaper company in Canada from scratch. He was proud to be a newspaperman but entrepreneurial enough to start Canada’s largest news and information site in the late 90s when he foresaw the changes we are experiencing today. He was a mentor to many and an inspiration to all who knew him,” Paton said.

Abrams, one of the CUNY J-School’s original advisory board members, has funded a full scholarship every year since the School opened in 2006. Her first gift was awarded in the name Bill Beutel, her late friend and colleague at WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News” program.

Abrams scholars have included Jego Armstrong from the pioneering Class of 2007, who works for Bloomberg News; Carl Winfield from the Class of 2008, now a senior reporter for Institutional Investor’s Money Management letter; and current student Selly Thiam, who will graduate from the School’s Master of Arts in Journalism degree program in December 2011.

Abrams’ own career in journalism spans more than 35 years, most of it spent at WABC-TV, then WCBS-TV in New York. She is credited with being the first African-American female journalist to join WABC-TV, and the second anchorwoman of color in the New York City television market. She has been part of the award-winning coverage for some of the biggest stories of our time, including the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the worldwide AIDS epidemic.

“Roz has been with us from the beginning, helping us build a first-class graduate journalism school that more clearly reflects the audience we serve. Her generosity will help our students, our University, our City, and our profession for years to come,” Dean Stephen B. Shepard said.

Paton joined the School’s advisory board in early 2010, shortly after he became chief executive of the Journal Register. The company owns more than 300 print and online news and information products serving 19 million Americans a month.

Paton has more than 30 years of experience as a reporter, editor, and executive in newspapers and online media in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He started his career as a copy boy at the Sun chain in Canada and eventually rose to publisher. He went on to co-found impreMedia LLC, which he and his partners built into the largest provider of news and information to the U.S. Hispanic population. He was also a co-founder of Knight Paton Media Corp., a newspaper acquisition and management advisory firm. In 2009, Editor & Publisher named him “Publisher of the Year.”

Paton’s gift is earmarked for students in the CUNY J-School’s entrepreneurial journalism track. The program includes a one-semester course of study culminating in an Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism. The five-course module is designed to prepare students and mid-career journalists to create businesses, work in startups, and bring innovation into existing media companies.

“It is only fitting that John Paton, who is transforming an old-line newspaper operation into a modern, multimedia information company, has given a gift to support innovation in journalism,” Shepard said. “We are extremely grateful for his munificence and service to our School.”