Carol Fletcher is the Chair of the Department of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations at Hofstra University on Long Island. A Yale University graduate, Fletcher’s long career in the magazine industry led to her start as an adjunct professor at Hofstra, and ultimately her position as head chair. Fletcher is also a member of the Press Club of Long Island.

You attended Ivy League Yale University for your undergraduate education, and then completed your masters at the University of California Berkeley. After graduating, what was your first step for making it into the journalism world?

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I actually started my career in fundraising, working for an environmental law firm, Natural Resources Defense Council. But my first love was always writing, so when I saw that Time Inc. was launching a new science magazine, Discover, I applied and was hired as a reporter.

With more than twenty years of experience in the magazine industry, what were some of the various publications you had the chance to work for and what were some of the stories you covered while being there?

I worked for many years in the magazine industry, doing everything from fact checking to stringing to freelance writing and editing. I was lucky to have the chance to cover everything from military readiness to panda mating habits for a wide range of publications, from Glamour and Working Woman to JAMA, Time, and the New York Times.

After your very successful career in the magazine industry, including being published in appearing in numerous general interest, science and women’s magazines, what made you decide to become a professor?

I started as an adjunct at Hofstra and fell in love with teaching. So when then-chair Bob Greene told me about a full-time opening in the department, I leapt at the chance.

You started teaching full time at Hofstra in 2000, but you had worked as an adjunct professor at the university for twelve years prior to that. Now that you have been the chair of Hofstra’s Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations Department for almost a year now, how has that experience been?

Being chair of the department has been a huge learning experience. What’s been most fun for me is learning about all the things our students and faculty are up to: shooting documentaries, running PR campaigns, writing books, blogging for the Huffington Post, interning for Hilary Clinton, working for social justice, doing sports and political commentary across the media, you name it.

What has been your biggest accomplishment since taking the role as Journalism Department Chair?

One thing I’m particularly proud of is our Conference on Suburban Poverty, which brought reporters from around the country to Hofstra to learn ways to better cover the growing inequities in suburbia. We had many other great events during the year, including visits by dozens of alumni and award-winning journalists, but I can’t claim credit for them!

The transition from being a professor to the head of an entire department must have been a tough one. Since your position is still relatively new, what are some of the things that a chair of an outstanding Journalism department does on a day-to-day basis?

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Every day is different! I try to advocate for students and faculty, helping them get the resources they need to continue the great work they do. I try to help students who have problems with scheduling or other issues, sometimes just negotiating the bureaucracy that exists in any big institution. I spend time on administrative minutia but also get to be involved in long-term planning, weigh in on hiring decisions, and participate in some university wide initiatives. I try to learn what our students, faculty and alumni feel would make the department even stronger and then work with the deans’ office and my colleagues to help realize those goals.

With Adelphi University, LIU Post, and Stony Brook University’s journalism programs getting more and more popular, what are some things the Journalism Department at Hofstra offers that other schools may not?

We have a phenomenal internship program, with students at News12 and major Long Island papers but also taking full advantage of our proximity to the media capital of the world. Last semester alone we had students at Fox, MSNBC, NBC Today Show, Vibe Magazine, Mashable, MSG, SONY Music, Charlie Rose, Redbook, and interning in public relations at Quinn amp; Co, Lincoln Center, and the Fresh Air Fund, to name just a few.

We have a strong network of involved alumni in all areas of the media, from Buzzfeed to O, the Oprah Magazine, CBS Evening News, the Wall Street Journal, and Edelman’s, among many, many others.

And we’re accredited by the ACEJMC, meaning a team of media leaders from the industry and academia has evaluated the department and found it to have an accomplished faculty, small classes, state-of-the-art facilities, strong intern and job placement, and a forward-looking curriculum that values diversity here and globally. The team was especially impressed with our students!

It is safe to say the journalism world is changing at a warp speed. With the popularity of social media and live-stream reporting via the web, getting information is almost instantaneous. How do you think that is Hofstra staying up with the times in the journalism world? Are there more web journalism classes offered?

As you know, gone are the days when a journalist could be only a writer or only an on-air reporter. Today a journalist needs to know everything from how to write well to how to shoot and edit video to how to build a website and use analytics. At Hofstra, each journalism student learns all these skills and more, all against the backdrop of a strong liberal arts education.

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Are there any upcoming plans for the department that you are particularly excited about?

Yes, a lot! The School of Communication is about to launch a Hofstra in LA program. We’ve started a cooperative FOIL project with Newsday and Stony Brook that allows students to work under Newsday’s investigative reporters, and we’ve had a really successful Herald Scholars Program. Thanks to Lawrence Herbert, the inventor of Pantone who recently gave his name to our school, we are building beautiful new TV facilities. We’re unrolling new courses in Data Journalism, Advanced Social Media, Social Media Law, and Liquid Layout. The SPJ regional conference is coming to Hofstra next spring, of course our students are excited about Hofstra’s upcoming George W. Bush conference and a bid for another Presidential Debate.

What is your best tip for your journalism students at Hofstra and around Long Island?

Get involved! Start a blog, pitch to your local newspaper, join WRHU or other student media, do an internship, and then another. Sure, it’s a time upheaval in our industry, but ethical, tenacious journalism has never been more important to the future of our country. We need you!

-Qamp;A by Alexa Froccaro

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