Jay T. Harris holds the Wallis Annenberg Chair in Journalism and Democracy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California where he joined the faculty in October 2002. He also serves as the founding director of The Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy.
From 1994 to 2001 Harris was chairman and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News. During his seven years as publisher the paper rose to national prominence for the quality of its journalism. The Columbia Journalism Review ranked it one of the ten best newspapers in the country. He also made the Mercury News a national pioneer in multi-cultural publishing, leading the drive to broaden and deepen the newspaper's service to a multi-lingual readership, and business community, in one of the nation's most diverse cities.
During his years as publisher the newspaper posted record profits and built one of the industry's most diverse staff and management teams. The paper's newsroom was more than 30 percent minority. Women constituted more than half of the officers of the newspaper when he left his job as publisher.
Harris is one of three persons holding the rank of Presidential Professor at Santa Clara University where he also teaches. He is also founder and president of Deep River Associates, an organization working to improve the health of communities and strengthen the vitality of democracy in America. He is a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board of Directors and the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute.
Harris began his journalism career in 1970 at the Wilmington (DE) News-Journal papers where he worked as a reporter and editor. Between 1975 and 1982, he was on the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and served as assistant dean of the school. In 1978, he designed and launched the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual national census of minority employment in daily newspapers. It remains the industry benchmark to this day, and helped earn Harris a place on the list of the 20th century's 100 most influential black journalists.
His professional work has been recognized with awards from numerous universities, public benefit corporations, social justice organizations, and national journalism and journalism education organizations. He has received honorary doctorates from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, his alma mater, and Santa Clara University in California.
He is married and has three children. He lives with his family in Los Gatos, CA.