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Media VIPs celebrate 15 years of journalism center

February 6, 2006

Photo of CBS 5 anchor Barbara Rodgers at the CIIJ fundraiserSome of the most respected names in Bay Area journalism were among the attendees of a Feb. 1 event on campus to celebrate the 15th anniversary of SFSU's Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism (CIIJ).

At the fundraiser in the Seven Hills Conference Center, top editors and executives from such organizations as the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, CBS 5, KQED, Contra Costa Times, Alameda Newspapers Group and New American Media were on hand to pledge their support. Bruce Koon, executive news editor of Knight Ridder Digital and a former journalism lecturer, was impressed with the crowd.

"You have in this room some of the premier thinkers, activists and people who care deeply about journalism," he said. "You have to remember, when (CIIJ) was founded, (diversity in journalism) wasn't cliché."

The sold-out event raised more than $10,000 toward a goal of $38,000 to match a challenge grant in support of CIIJ from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Ford Foundation, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

CIIJ, based in the Journalism Department, strives to diversify U.S. newsrooms and ensure fair, accurate coverage of minority communities. The only institution of its kind in the West and most extensive in the country, CIIJ develops programs and conducts research to recruit, retain and revitalize journalism and journalism educators. It has served more than 10,000 students since its inception in 1990.

Well-known names in attendance included CBS 5 anchors Barbara Rodgers and Sue Kwon, Oakland Tribune columnist Brenda Payton, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer and SFSU alumna Rachel Gordon, former Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Dean Tom Goldstein, and Bay Area author Dave Eggers.

Eggers, who runs 826 Valencia, a Mission District youth writing center, welcomed the opportunity to serve on the honorary committee for the event because his organization and CIIJ have parallel goals. "We both address, in newspapers, the lack of representation from every community," Eggers said.

CIIJ founder Betty Medsger, professor emerita of journalism, received a standing ovation after delivering the keynote speech. She discussed the latest challenges in the journalism profession -- from the CIA leak scandal and growing public distrust of journalists to financial struggles of the newspaper industry. Medsger made a point to acknowledge the investigative work of reporters being done today, including that of SFSU alumnus Michael Moss, a New York Times reporter who broke the recent stories about the lack of body armor being provided to U.S. troops in Iraq.

CIIJ Director Cristina Azocar presented the center's first Founders Award to CBS 5 for its commitment to diversity in news coverage and the newsroom. CBS 5 Vice President and News Director Dan Rosenheim noted the station has increased its focus on diversity in the past year, after CIIJ performed an audit of its coverage and discovered needs for improvement.

-- Matt Itelson


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Last modified February 6, 2006 by University Communications