Sree Sreenivasan is Stony Brook’s School of Journalism first Marshall R. Loeb Visiting Professor of Digital Innovation and Audience Engagement. He is teaching digital journalism classes. RABIA GURSOY/THE STATESMAN

On Sept. 1, Sree Sreenivasan joined Stony Brook’s School of Journalism faculty as the first Marshall R. Loeb Visiting Professor of Digital Innovation and Audience Engagement to teach the complexities of digital journalism.

In the new digital journalism program, Sreenivasan will be engaging students in a three-year professorship on how to use digital innovations to enhance the content of news, its delivery and its engagement of the audience.

“Professor Sreenivasan brings new and exciting expertise to the school,” Laura Lindenfeld Sher, the Dean of the School of Journalism, said. “We imagine he will help to create some new courses and update some existing courses.”

The professorship is named after Marshall R. Loeb, a former editor, columnist and commentator for Time, Fortune, and Money magazines, who was eventually named the founder of modern business journalism. After his death on Dec. 9, 2017, his children Margaret and Michael Loeb created the Marshall R. Loeb Visiting Professorship in Digital Innovation and Audience Engagement at Stony Brook University to honor his life and accomplishments.

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Now, the newfound professorship is being granted to talented and knowledgeable individuals who will teach journalism to students through a modern digital lens.

Sreenivasan was a professor at the Columbia Journalism School for 20 years and was a leading consultant for a multitude of different organizations, including nonprofits, corporations and startups such as DNAinfo.com. He is also a co-founder of two journalism organizations: the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) and the Online Journalists Association, in which he is an administrator for its large awards program. In 2016, he was named the most influential Chief Digital Officer (CDO) by the CDO Club.

“I imagine that his experience with digital media and audience building will enable students to learn more about the business of digital news,” Charles Haddad, associate dean and professor in the School of Journalism said. “This is a first for us, so it’s a very big deal. It’s very important that we get the right person to make the right impression.”

Sreenivasan said that his goal is to help the school develop its multimedia curriculum. He wants to help students “figure out how to be more digital and more engaged with the audience.” The course will also deal with advancing the student body’s experience with different types of technological advancements.

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“This course is more photography, audio, video, all of it gets mixed in with multimedia, while keeping the heart of what we’ve been doing for years,” Sreenvisan said.

Haddad explained that the School of Journalism as a whole is “going through a major change” and Sreenvisan is helping the curriculum take a step forward in the process. According to Haddad, his professorship is part of a larger revamp in the school’s curriculum. “We don’t quite have the resources to do it yet, but we are taking the baby steps towards that,” Haddad said.

Sreenivasan gave his own insight on how his lessons would provide for current and future students.

“Everything that [students are] learning will last them a lifetime,” Sreenivasan said. “The ability to write clearly, communicate clearly is something that no robot or AI can completely take over from you. So, that’s how you make yourself future-proof.”

Haddad also said that Sreenivasan will help diversify the faculty of the School of Journalism and introduce social media techniques.

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“I think it’s important that we have more people that look like our students,” he said. “It’s a very small pool of people of color who move into journalism in particular.”

In fact, minorities in the US made up 21.4% of graduates with degrees in journalism between 2004 and 2014, according to The Atlantic. Yet, less than half of them found jobs in the field.

“Journalism has always struggled as a profession to attract people of color to help them be successful,” Haddad said.

Sreenivasan said he’s excited to join the Stony Brook family. He had “the good fortune to be selected for it,” and has been a long-standing fan of the university and its academic prowess.

Other journalism professors, such as Johnathan Anzalone, thinks his addition is a significant one.

“The School of Journalism needed more faculty, and it’s great that the school was able to marshal the resources to create the Loeb Visiting Professorship and bring in someone who’s so accomplished to fill the position,” he said.

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The Dean further extended the School of Journalism’s welcoming message.

“We are so incredibly fortunate to have Professor Sreenivasan on board,” Lindenfeld said. “He has a remarkable background, deep experience in digital journalism and a stellar reputation. The School couldn’t be more delighted to welcome him on board.” 

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