Office of Public Affairs
(315) 312-2265
Jan. 23, 2002
CONTACT: Michael Ameigh, 312-3500
OSWEGO -- SUNY Oswego's Center for Community Journalism recently welcomed Vicki Simons as its new director. She is the former co-owner and editor of the twice-weekly Independent newspaper in Hillsdale.
Based at SUNY Oswego, the center's mission is to nurture good community journalism by training working journalists and by forging a link between academia and the industry. The hallmark of the center is its free on-site customized newsroom training at weekly and small daily papers as well as a series of regional seminars around New York state for working journalists.
Simons will work with John Hatcher, the center's director of educational programs, to expand the number of newsroom training sessions. In 25 sessions during the past two years, Hatcher worked with more than 250 journalists on issues ranging from story-telling techniques to page design to strategic planning.
Simons' 15 years of newspaper management experience will add to the center's training repertoire as well as expand the length and type of help offered to community papers, said Michael Ameigh, the center's executive director. Her first task will be to expand the funding base to assure the center can continue to offer its programs at low or no cost to the journalists it serves, he added.
Simons will then create a program for high school journalists that also involves college journalism programs as well as local newspapers, said Ameigh, an associate professor of communications studies who will continue his work with the center's programs.
During Simons' ownership of the Independent with her husband Tony Jones, who served as publisher, the newspaper grew fivefold in circulation and won several New York Press Association Better Newspaper Contest awards. The National Newspaper Association gave Simons the Emma C. McKinney Award as outstanding woman journalist in 1998. The couple sold the Independent in July.
"I look forward to bringing the same kind of energy and passion to seeing the center grow that I had at the Independent," Simons said. "The newspaper people out there on the front lines have incredibly demanding jobs. They are doing such important work for their communities that they deserve all the help they can get -- and at a price they can afford."
The center was founded in 1997 through seed money from the New York Press Association and the New York Newspaper Publishers Association. Simons, president of the New York Press Association at the time, served as president of the center's initial advisory board. The center continues to receive support from the association.
For more information on the center's activities, contact either Simons at 518-392-7529 or, or Hatcher at 315-312-5427 or
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