Berkeley - Jay T. Harris, former chairman and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News, has been appointed the Robert C. Maynard Fellow, the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and the Maynard Institute in Oakland, Calif., announced today (Thursday, Dec. 20).
At UC Berkeley, Harris will join other faculty members to teach classes, participate in school events and deliver the Maynard Lectures on the state of the American media. At the Maynard Institute, Harris will write a regular column for its newly revamped Web site, lecture and participate in other institute programs across the country.
Harris, 53, resigned in March because of fundamental disagreements over business strategy and company values with Knight Ridder, parent company of the Mercury News. His resignation was viewed as a protest against significant budget cuts and layoffs he said would hurt the capability of the Mercury News to fulfill its journalistic responsibilities as a public trust.
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 10 best newspapers in the country.
Harris's priorities as publisher were enhancing the newspaper's coverage of business and technology in Silicon Valley and building the Bay Area's best report on state, national and global affairs.
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 through the creation of high quality Spanish- and Vietnamese-language weekly newspapers.
The newspaper posted record profits and built one of the industry's most diverse staff and management teams while Harris was publisher. The paper's newsroom is more than 30 percent minority. Women constituted more than half of the officers of the newspaper when he left his job as publisher.
In 1985, Harris joined Knight Ridder, the parent company of the Mercury News, as executive editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. In 1988, he joined the Knight Ridder corporate staff, and in 1994, he was named chairman and publisher of the Mercury News.
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 (Del.) News-Journal papers. In 1975, he joined the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where, 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. In 1982, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a national correspondent and columnist for Gannett News Service.
The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education is the leading organization for training journalists of color and for helping the nation's news media reflect the nation's diversity in staffing, content and business operations. Incorporated in 1977 as the Institute for Journalism Education, the institute was renamed in 1993 to honor its chairman, the late Robert C. Maynard, former owner and publisher of the Oakland Tribune.