spring of 1979, just a few weeks shy of an SF State journalism degree,
Eric Newton (B.A., Journalism, '79) applied for a
reporting job at the Oakland Tribune. With freelance and stringer work
under his belt, Newton thought he had a good shot at the job. An editor
thought otherwise, telling Newton to come back after he had paid his
dues at smaller papers.
Newton proved his mettle at papers in Mill Valley and Richmond. In 1984,
he finally got his job at the Tribune. Driven and deeply committed to
journalism, Newton distinguished himself first as a copy editor and
reporter and later as a formidable newsroom leader. Under Newton's steady
hand as managing editor, the paper won more than 150 major awards, including
a Pulitzer Prize in photography for coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta
Following the Tribune's sale in 1992, Newton went to work for the Freedom
Forum in Arlington, Va., where he designed the content plan for the
Newseum, the media foundation's innovative museum of news. But even
years later, that editor's glib brush-off back in 1979 stuck in Newton's
"It seemed there wasn't anything that happened to me [in Mill Valley
and Richmond] that a good training program couldn't have taught me,"
he said. "Since then, I've been an advocate of newspaper training
Today, Newton is ideally situated to promote his twin journalistic passions.
For the past two years, he has been director of journalism initiatives
for the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the leading
funder of journalism education and training programs in the country.
Among foundation grantees is San Francisco State's Center for the Integration
and Improvement of Journalism. Founded in 1990, the Center sponsors
programs that promote ethnic diversity in the nation's newsrooms and
balanced coverage of communities of color.
Knight Foundation awards totaling $1,065,000 have helped support two
of the Center's most successful initiatives: a summer boot camp for
Bay Area high school journalists -- many of them students of color --
and a coaching and mentoring program that matches professional reporters
and photographers with journalism students in the California State University
and Community College systems.