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Knight Ridder/Mercury News Professor
Sally Lehrman is the Knight Ridder/San Jose Mercury News Endowed Chair in Journalism and the Public Interest and professor in the Communication Department. Also at SCU, she is a Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Scholar and affiliated with the Center for Science, Technology and Society.
Lehrman covers science, medicine and related societal issues, with an emphasis on identity, race relations and gender. Her byline credits include Scientific American, Health, Salon.com, Nature, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times and SoundVision Production's Peabody award-winning The DNA Files, three series of public radio documentaries on genetics and society distributed by National Public Radio.
Science, race, and multiculturalism and the news are core themes in Lehrman's courses. Students report in and on the multiethnic communities of Santa Clara County, learning to understand community issues from the inside out. They also cover the policies and practices that can lead to unequal opportunity. Local community members engage with students in feedback sessions about their work, which has been published on SJBeez, a hyperlocal ethnic media news site.
Lehrman coordinates the Communication Department Multicultural Journalism Series, which has welcomed Andrew Lam, Cheryl Conte (Jack & Jill Politics), Mei-Ling Sze (KTSF), Karen de Sá (San Jose Mercury News) and other thought-provoking speakers on representation and ethics.
She also conducts trainings on science reporting, diversity in news coverage, and inclusive journalism education for public radio journalists, ethnic media and citizen journalists who may be teachers, private investigators, grandmothers or musicians. Click here for resources and suggestions for teaching inclusion.
Skin Deep: The Search for Race in Our Genes, Lehrman's upcoming book, will be published by Oxford University Press. Drawing on the latest research in genetics, epidemiology, and sociology, Skin Deep will examine the history and implications of the new race-based medicine.
News in a New America, a book published by the Knight Foundation, is a fresh take on diversity in news coverage and staffing. It draws upon Lehrman's work for a decade as national diversity chair for the Society for Professional Journalists. She is currently an SDX Foundation board member and is an Institute for Justice in Journalism Senior Fellow on race.
Selected honors and awards:Peabody Award (2002), Peabody/Robert Wood Johnson Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Programming, and Columbia/Du Pont Silver Baton shared forThe DNA Files; the SPJ Wells Key (the Society of Professional Journalists' highest honor); various other reporting and writing awards; and the 1995-96 John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University.
The DNA Files, (2007, 2001, 1998). Three radio series that tell the story of genetics advances in medical and environmental sciences across the nation and what they mean for society now and into the future. Broadcast on NPR.
"Undifferentiated Ethics: Why Stem Cells from Adult Skin Are as Morally Fraught as Embryonic Stem Cells," Scientific American (September, 2010) Skin cells reprogrammed to take on the myriad roles of embryonic stem cells may not bypass moral conundrums at all.
"Are Personal Genome Scans Medically Useless?", Scientific American (May, 2008). Physicians and other experts doubt that commercial, direct-to-consumer genetic tests benefit people's health.
"Race, Genes and Illness", New York Times (April, 2007). More and more, researchers are holding out the hope that genetic differences may finally explain a good part of the troubling health disparities among races.
BP Spill: Do news traditions trigger helplessness?, Sacramento Bee (July, 2010) We journalists see it as our job to provide the information that can empower people to act. Could we be cultivating a sense of impotence instead?
Census reveals history of U.S. racial identity, San Francisco Chronicle (April, 2010) Our hands shape race's harmful hierarchies.
"Lap Dog, Mad Dog or Watch Dog?" (2011). Intensive training on science journalism ethics, research techniques and reporting considerations for public radio journalists. SoundVision Science Literacy Project, Berkeley, CA.
"Place Matters: Can your Zip Code Influence your Health?" (2010). Presentation, New America Media Fellowship Program on Health, Health Care and Environmental Health, Sacramento, CA.
"Race in the News" (2010) Presentation and panel on addressing stereotypes in the news and covering structural injustice. Facing Race, Applied Research Center, Chicago, IL.
" Diversity Across the Curriculum" (2010) Trainings with Maynard Institute for Journalism Education for faculty at Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications (January) and the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (February)
"The Push for Diversity -- and Beyond" (2009). Lecture at Trialogue of Cultures, Herbert-Quandt-Foundation, Bad Homburg, Germany and also, "Media's Relationship with Stereotyping and the Use of Mass Media to Further Social Justice and Equality" (2009), Stuttgart Media University.
"Cross-ethnic reporting" Conducted a series of conversations with news media in Bosnia-Herzegovina to discuss cross-ethnic reporting (2006).