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Despite Setbacks, Neighborhood News Continues to Thrive

After 19 years, the Neighborhood News remains a core element of the Hunter journalism program. But keeping it alive hasn’t always been easy. 

Founded by Bernard Stein in 2005 as a course to report on Hunts Point in the South Bronx, Neighborhood News now publishes stories focused on Hunter College. “I think students liked it a lot,” said Pam Frederick, who taught Neighborhood News from 2015 to 2019, along with other courses in the journalism program. 

Over the years, the course has strived to keep up with younger audiences. Stein, a former Hunter professor and Pulitzer Prize winner, introduced the course to have students report on a Bronx community that lacked sufficient funds for its own local newspaper. Frederick, a previous colleague of Stein’s, said his philosophy originated from low-income communities’ lack of news coverage compared to wealthy neighborhoods.

In addition to Hunts Point Express, Stein ran another newspaper through the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, where students reported on the Mott Haven community

During Stein’s time as a professor, Hunter hired a full-time editor to work with both newspapers to maintain consistency, as the student reporters changed each year.

After Stein retired in 2015, Frederick was hired as an adjunct professor at Hunter. She previously taught journalism at the Columbia Journalism School.

Frederick noted the difference in status adjunct and full-time professors have as she described her yearly battle to keep the class running. Hunter was losing money on Neighborhood News, because of its editor, and the Bronx commute led to a decline in enrollment. This led to Frederick to propose an alternative path for the course, and The Athenian was born. 

Frederick created the site from scratch, and even paid out of pocket for an original logo. 

“Neighborhood News students [originally] wrote for [Hunts Point],” Frederick said. “The Athenian students write for their peers and I think it really changes the stakes.” 

Frederick left Hunter in 2019, but Neighborhood News continues to thrive under the guidance of Kaya Laterman, who has worked at both national and hyperlocal news outlets for 30 years.

“I do really like the class. I enjoy all the students and I’m just impressed by the speed and the quality of the writing,” said Laterman. “There’s a lot of different stories on [The Athenian].”

Laterman relies on practical methods to teach her students and emphasizes the importance of captivating your audience. 

According to Edison Ruiz, a third year Journalism student taking Neighborhood News, “today’s generation has a short attention span,” and they consider that in how they present their stories. “Kaya is well aware of this,” he said. “The Athenian is easy to navigate and every student can find at least one story that caters to their interest.”

Our Journalism Concentration & Minor

The Hunter College journalism program is offered as a concentration or a minor within the Department of Film & Media Studies. Its curriculum is built around production courses in journalism and analytical courses in media studies. Learn more about our course requirements.

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