USC Annenberg

Scripps Howard Foundation names Saltzman "Teacher of the Year"

Journalism professor Joe Saltzman has been named the national Journalism & Mass Communication Teacher of the Year by the Scripps Howard Foundation. The Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Awards are considered among the most prestigious awards in American journalism.

Saltzman, who also directs the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture project at USC Annenberg, will receive a $10,000 cash prize and The Charles E. Scripps Award at the keynote session during the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention in St. Louis on August 10. He also will be recognized at the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Awards dinner in Cincinnati on May 3.
“This is an incredible honor, totally unexpected,” Saltzman said.
“Professor Saltzman has few peers in the classroom,” said Geneva Overholser, director of USC Annenberg’s journalism school. “His devoted teaching has inspired generations of broadcasters to live up to the highest ideals of their craft, and his unique research will continue to inspire journalists far into the future.”
In his 44 years on the USC faculty, Saltzman has had a major role in shaping journalism education at USC. He established the broadcast journalism curriculum in 1974, and his research into the portrayal of journalists in popular culture has spawned classes at more than two dozen universities.
In addition to his research program, Saltzman's influence on the industry can be traced through those he has taught. He said the award is a testament to their achievements.
“I am proud of students who went on to distinguished careers in journalism," he said, "such as Peter Boyer, a PBS documentary producer and Newsweek columnist, Sherri Cookson, an HBO documentary producer, Steve Randall, executive editor of Playboy magazine, Kevin McKenna at The New York Times, Sherry Stern and Steve Clow at the Los Angeles Times, Clara Germani at the Christian Science Monitor, and Dan Birman, a documentary producer and now a faculty colleague.
"But I am equally proud of students who learned how to write and think creatively in my class and went on to use those skills as a lawyer, doctor, legislator, social worker, teacher, parent," he continued.
Saltzman said he believes that what he has done outside the classroom “has made me a better teacher inside the classroom. Working in journalism enables me to give students an understanding of the reality of the news business, the problems they will face and ways to solve those problems.”
Saltzman has been recognized for his education work with teaching awards from the USC Associates and the USC division of social sciences and communication, and with alumni awards from USC Annenberg and Columbia University.
As a journalist, Saltzman has earned a Columbia University-duPont broadcast journalism award, four Emmys, four Golden Mikes, two Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Silver Gavel, and one of the first NAACP Image Awards.
Saltzman dedicated the award to his Alhambra High School English and journalism teacher, Ted Tajima, who died in February. "Ted made everything I have done possible," Saltzman said. "In 1955, I was a junior and he found me standing in the hallway crying my eyes out. He asked me what was the matter. I told him that the high school counselor just told me I wasn’t college material and that I should follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a window cleaner. My dream of being the first person in my family to go to college was over.
"Ted was furious and went to see that high school counselor," Saltzman continued. "When he came back, he told me that together, we would work to get me into the best school of journalism on the West Coast -- the University of Southern California -- and with a scholarship as well. And he made it happen. If it weren’t for Ted, I probably would have ended up a window cleaner.
"When I wonder why I’ve spent the last 44 years teaching at USC, I think back to Ted. I know I became a teacher because of his influence on me. I wanted to do for future journalists what he had done for me,” he said.
Saltzman plans to donate the $10,000 prize to The Jester & Pharley Phund, a nonprofit dedicated to helping ill children, especially those with cancer.
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