Susan Paterno

Susan Paterno

Professor, Director of the Journalism Program
Journalism Program Director
Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Department of English
Office Location: Smith Hall 204C
Office Hours: Posted, and by appointment
Occidental College, Bachelor of Arts (Latin)
Northwestern University, Master of Science


Investigating Access and Equity in Higher Education

I have a longstanding commitment to accountability journalism. My work has consistently revealed how public and private systems break down and fail the people they claim to serve. My analysis of how corporations squelch free speech set First Amendment precedents in the state of California. The Columbia Journalism Review described "Santa Barbara Smackdown" as "rich with detail, an example of the kind of solid journalism criticism that the American Journalism Review is known for at its best," noting that it "set off more coverage and a blogger splurge." My investigation of the media's coverage of a national investigative reporter's suicide uncovered revelations about the CIA's connection to the Nicaraguan Contras during Reagan's undeclared war in Central America. The article inspired a feature film, won the National Press Club's highest honor for Criticism, and prompted intense media coverage and a national conversation about covert operations, including the British documentary "Shadows of Liberty." As a senior writer for "American Journalism Review," I won the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism. My work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, the New York TimesU.S. News & World Report, Parenting and many other publications. I have collaborated on a half dozen books, including The Newswriters Handbook, and Talk Straight, Listen Carefully: The Art of Interviewing. My current project, investigating access and equity in college admissions, is an extension of the probing journalism I've practiced throughout my career. It will illuminate the inner workings of the profit-driven admissions economy, and expose the corporations and people profiting from the systemic inequality that infects higher education today.

Twitter: @susanpaterno

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

First Place, Nonficton Book, California Press Women, "Game On."
First Place, General Nonficton, National Federation of Press Women, "Game On."
“McClatchy: The Rise and Fall of a Media Empire," SAGE Publishing, Encyclopedia of Journalism.
"University Program Focuses on Civic Reporting," Center for Community News, University of Vermont.
"Admission Tests Aren’t Optional If They’re Tied to Financial Aid," Washington Post.
"Unheard: Orange County Shuts Out Deaf Residents From Public Meeting Broadcasts," Voice of OC, (co-edited article reported and written by Chapman journalism students.)
"Rankled by Rankings? Blame College Presidents," Forbes.
"Guess Who's Blocking Student Debt Forgiveness? Round Up the Usual Suspects," Forbes.
“The Myth of the Perfect Fit," Forbes.
Game On: Why College Admission is Rigged. MacMillan Publishers, St. Martin’s Press. Summer 2021.
"The Flaws of College Admission," Inside Higher Ed.
"College rankings have fueled an arms race that has pushed higher education astray," Washington Post.
"The Lifelong Burden of Student Debt," Forbes.
"Finding Right Fit Colleges," Forbes.
“If Rankings Cause Stress, Why Do Families Love Them?” Forbes.
“Why Families Over-Borrow For College," Forbes.
"How to Leverage Financial Aid," Forbes.
"Avoiding Debt Servitude Requires Understanding the Arcane Language of Financial Aid," Forbes. Spring 2021.
"Win The Game Rick Singer’s Celebrity Clients Lost," Forbes. Spring 2021
"Why Financial Aid Fails Families," Forbes, Spring 2021.
"Pay-To-Play Admissions Is A Scandal—It’s Also SOP," Forbes. Summer 2021.
"Dropping SAT Won’t Diminish College Board Clout," Forbes. Summer 2021.
"Kill the SAT, Ignore the Rankings, Stop Obsessing Over Elite Colleges," Inside Higher Education. Fall 2020.
“Debt for Service: Veterans Must Rank Higher than Free Market Fraudsters,” Voice of OC. December 2020.
"Orange County: Ground Zero in College Bribery Scandal," Voice of OC
"Note to bigots: Read Bill of Rights, watch Mister Rogers and lay off Kaepernick," USA Today
"Powerhouse Prep," Orange Coast Magazine, January 2018.
"Art Among the Ruins," The Register, May 2016. Front page article on indigenous culture in Oaxaca, Mexico.
"American Journalism Review’s former editor picks out its best pieces," Columbia Journalism Review, includes four authored articles: "The Sad Saga of Gary Webb;" Paterno, Susan F.; "Santa Barbara Smackdown;" Paterno, Susan F.; "An Ill Tailwind;" Paterno, Susan F.; "When the Watchdogs Don't Bark," Paterno, Susan F.
"The Lying Game," Paterno, Susan F.; included in anthology "Undercover Reporting, Deception For Journalism's Sake," A database collaboration with NYU Libraries includes high-impact, controversial, U.S.-generated journalism as part of research for Undercover Reporting: The Truth About Deception (Northwestern University Press. )
"Talk Straight, Listen Carefully," Paterno, Stein; selected by Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, as recommended text.
Business Ethics: Ethical Issues in Journalism, edited: Fritz Allhoff; "Intervention Dilemma," Paterno, Susan; Sage Press Publishing, Santa Barbara, Calif.
“Talk Straight Listen Carefully,” Paterno and Stein, selected by Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center as recommended text.
Shadows of Liberty 2014 American Tour, documentary screening in 170 cities nationwide, including The Public Broadcasting System (PBS.) Nominated for Best Documentary Feature by NewFilmmakers Los Angeles.
"The Gary Webb saga still has lessons today," USA Today, October 2014.
“Argentine Summer,” Orange County Register, August 2014.
"Santa Barbara Smackdown," Columbia Journalism Review, anthology, "An example o the kind of solid journalism criticism that the American Journalism Review is known for at its best, the kind of analysis and reporting that would be sorely missed if the magazine disappeared."