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Arthur Brisbane, Former Public Editor of New York Times, to Teach at W&L

Arthur S. Brisbane, a longtime journalist who most recently served as public editor of The New York Times, will be the Visiting Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at Washington and Lee University for the 2013-14 academic year.

Brisbane succeeds Edward Wasserman, who left after 10 years to become dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. The search for a permanent replacement for Wasserman will begin this summer.

“We are privileged to have someone with Art’s impressive journalistic background joining our faculty for the year,” said Pamela Luecke, head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism. “He will bring to the classroom current lessons about the ethical and financial challenges that news organizations face as they adapt to the digital age.”

In his role as Knight Professor, Brisbane will teach courses in journalism and media ethics and will spearhead the two ethics institutes that the department stages each year. Those two-day institutes bring practitioners in communications fields to campus, where they join W&L students who are majoring in journalism and mass communications to explore ethical challenges based on case studies.

Brisbane will also teach a course titled Media Management and Entrepreneurship next fall and will offer an additional course in the 2014 winter term.

“It’s been 17 years since the Society of Professional Journalists updated its code of ethics. In digital-age years, that’s a century,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight Foundation. “Yet an ethical compass is essential to our survival as a profession. Art will bring fresh thinking to the key issues.”

Brisbane has been a columnist and reporter at the Kansas City Times, a reporter and editor at the Washington Post, the editor and publisher of the Kansas City Star and a senior executive at Knight Ridder.

A graduate of Harvard College, he worked at the Kansas City Times from 1977 to 1984, writing a four-times-a-week column, and published a book of columns, “Arthur Brisbane’s Kansas City,” in 1982.

He joined the Post in 1984 and, as city hall beat reporter, covered Marion Barry during his second term as mayor of the District of Columbia. He also covered agricultural affairs on the national desk and was an assistant city editor, overseeing the District of Columbia city government beat and investigative reporters.

In 1990, he became a metro columnist for the Kansas City Star. He was elevated to editor of the Star in 1992, and helped launch kansascity.com, a local web portal that won national recognition. Under his editorship, the Star was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 and won a George Polk Award in 1995. He became publisher of the Star in 1997 and was then named senior vice president of Knight Ridder in 2005.  In that capacity, he oversaw the business operations of Knight Ridder’s papers in Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Mo., and Charlotte, N.C.

From 2007–2010, he served as a consultant with ASB Consulting and then joined The New York Times for a two-year stint as public editor, from 2010 to 2012. He was The Times’ fourth public editor, a position created in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal. In that role, he served as the readers’ representative, responding to complaints and monitoring the newspaper’s ethics. His column ran in The Sunday Review (previously “Week in Review) section of The Times..

Knight Foundation has established endowed chairs in journalism at top universities throughout the country. Holders of the chairs are leading journalists who, like Brisbane, teach innovative classes and create experimental projects and new programs that help lead journalism excellence in the digital age. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

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Jeffery G. Hanna
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