CUNY J-School Rescinds Award to Charlie Rose

  • By Amy Dunkin

As an institution that strives to educate the next generation of journalistic leaders, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism teaches students to comport themselves in an ethical manner. In fact, this value is a formal, required outcome of our curriculum.

At the same time, a core mission of the school is to develop new perspectives and voices in our profession. We aim to do this by recruiting a diverse student body that will go on to fundamentally change newsrooms and by helping to remove obstacles that have prevented women and people of color from succeeding and advancing.

It is in this context that we must rescind a lifetime achievement award given to Charlie Rose at our school’s 2010 annual benefit dinner. Following a report in The Washington Post that unveiled a pattern of sexual harassment of women over many years, Mr. Rose was fired from PBS, CBS, and Bloomberg and forced to relinquish honors bestowed upon him by other journalism schools and professional organizations.

Our decision to revoke our award comes with the overwhelming support of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. We are acting not just to condemn his behavior, which is unconscionable and violates the ethical standards we hold sacred as journalists. We are also making a statement regarding the larger cultural forces that discourage women from coming forward with legitimate complaints in the first place and that have prevented them from succeeding as journalists in the longer run.

Rose’s lifetime achievements were made possible, in part, by the contributions of the very women he reportedly abused. It is not possible to separate what was viewed as his excellent journalism from his behavior toward these women. And it would be wrong for us to allow him to keep his award in that light.

As this moment teaches us, we need to aim for better: better support of each other, better professional norms that foster everyone’s talents, and better journalism overall.

Sarah Bartlett, Dean

Andrew Mendelson, Associate Dean