News next: a journalism teacher's diary

About me

From 1978 until he joined Hunter’s faculty in 2005, Bernard Stein edited The Riverdale Press, the community newspaper founded by his father that covers the Northwest Bronx neighborhoods of Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights, Van Cortlandt Village and Marble Hill.

It was an unusually adventurous tenure.

The Press’s investigative reporting led to two grand jury probes and the passage of legislation aimed at corrupt practices in the public schools. It played a significant role in exposing the wrongdoing that led to the jailing of virtually the entire leadership of the Bronx Democratic Party in the mid-1980s and the dismantling of the largest medical waste incinerator in the state 10 years later.

In 1989, terrorists firebombed the Press office to retaliate for an editorial defending the right to read Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

In 1998, Bernard Stein won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for what the Pulitzer board called “his gracefully-written editorials on politics and other issues affecting New York City residents.” It was the third time he had been a finalist for the prize.

At Hunter, he founded The Hunts Point Express, a community newspaper staffed by the students in his Neighborhood News class, which covers Hunts Point and Longwood in the South Bronx. The Express is the prototype for what he hopes will become a growing group of student-staffed, not-for-profit news outlets serving the city’s poorest communities. It was joined in 2009 by the Mott Haven Herald, staffed by Hunter and CUNY j-school graduate students.

A graduate of Columbia College, the undergraduate college of Columbia University (BA, 1963), Stein enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley to pursue a PhD in literature, but soon became more interested in raising hell. He was arrested in a mass sit-in during the Free Speech Movement in 1964, when students won the right to organize on campus on behalf of the civil rights movement and other political causes, then dropped out to work in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements.

Before returning to New York, Bernard Stein worked as an editor at the Mark Twain Papers, the largest archive of Mark Twain’s manuscripts in the world, helping to publish 19 volumes in a projected 150-volume scholarly edition, including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, for which he was chiefly responsible.

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