Dr. James Simon awarded national fellowship for journalism


The American Society of Newspaper Executives has awarded Dr. James Simon, who heads the journalism program in Fairfield University's English Department, a national fellowship in the Institute for Journalism Excellence. The fellowship, awarded to 20 journalism professors across the country, is designed to allow journalism professors to update and expand their newsroom experience.

Staying up to date in an academic field is one of the biggest challenges facing any professor, noted Dr. Simon. "The challenge is even greater in a field like journalism, where new forms of communication like the Internet and 24-hour cable TV news shows have made it even harder to keep current."

Ten years ago, he pointed out, reporters didn't have access to a World Wide Web for information. There was little e-mail access to contact sources and few cell phones for calling in a story. "This (fellowship) is a chance for me to get the kind of up-to-date information that can benefit myself, my students, the university, and the news outlets that hire our students." said Dr. Simon, 47, now completing his third year as a professor at Fairfield.

ASNE began the program in 1995 as an effort to ensure that college graduates were as well prepared as possible for the rigors of modern day journalism. To date, more than 100 ASNE Fellows have taken part.

"Our goal is to strengthen the bonds between those who are shaping the next generation of journalists with newspapers in the midst of dramatic change," said Diana Mitsu Klos, ASNE's senior project director. By immersing the educators in the day-to-day excitement of putting out a newspaper, she explained, "They take a renewed knowledge of newspaper operations and journalistic practices back to their classrooms." The participating newspapers benefit as well, she said, "from the expertise and enthusiasm of the educators."

The program begins in June when Dr. Simon and the 19 other journalism professors attend a week-long seminar at the American Press Institute on the state of journalism today. Dr. Simon then will work for six weeks as an editor at The Connecticut Post, the paper where many of his Fairfield students complete journalism internships.

He ends the fellowship in August when he and the other professors meet for a debriefing at the convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix.

Dr. Simon spent 10 years as a reporter and editor with The Associated Press, including stints as the New Jersey State Editor and the Massachusetts Statehouse Bureau Chief. He worked in the Dukakis presidential campaign in 1988, completed his doctoral education at Arizona State University, and taught at the University of the Pacific before coming to Fairfield.

This fall at Fairfield University, Simon will teach a special election-year version of Political and Government Reporting. He also serves as faculty adviser to "The Mirror," the student newspaper, and supervises a staff of six adjunct professors who teach journalism courses in the English Department.

He is a popular guest on local television and radio programs, commenting on political and media-related issues.

Dr. Simon directs the new minor in journalism, just approved by Fairfield's English Department. Among the courses being offered are Broadcast News Writing, Sports Reporting and Journalism Editing and Design. Most students interested in journalism also complete two internships before graduation.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 3, 2000

Vol. 32, No. 263