Steven Klein to leave journalism department

After fourteen years at George Mason University, professor Steven Klein of the journalism department will be leaving the university at the end of the spring 2013 semester.

Klein is currently the coordinator for the journalism concentration of the 

Professor Steven Klein will retire from the Mason journalism department after the spring 2013 semester (photo courtesy George Mason University).

Department of Communication, as well as the coordinator for the electronic journalism and sports communication minors.

Beth Jannery, one of Klein’s colleagues, will replace him as coordinator for the journalism concentration and the two minors beginning next fall semester. Jannery is currently an adjunct Mason faculty member teaching the Writing Across Media course.

Jannery was chosen by current communication department chair Gary Krepes with an agreement by chair elect Ann Nicotera. Jannery was also one of Klein’s recommendations for the position.

“She’s a nurturer, a mentor and a really good journalist,” Klein said. “I think she will provide a new vision for the program.”

Klein came to Mason in the fall of 1999 with 35 years of journalism experience. His resume included the sports editor position at the Lansing State Journal, senior editor for Tennis magazine and executive sports editor and features editor for the Stamford Advocate, according to the biography on his blog.

Klein has a master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University, where he also taught as an adjunct professor for nine years.

“That’s where I learned about the classroom,” Klein said. “Learning to teach in a classroom was an adjustment.”

Klein served as an adjunct faculty member for his first four years at Mason. He created and taught the online journalism and sports writing and reporting courses during those four years. He then applied to be the coordinator for Mason’s journalism program.

One of his more recent accomplishments as coordinator is the creation of the sports communication minor four years ago. This was done in collaboration with the Health, Recreation and Tourism Department.

“Students in HRT lacked the writing and communication skills that we teach well in this department,” Klein said.

According to Jannery, Klein continues to be readily available for his students.

“His top priority is what’s best for the students,” Jannery said. “If [a student] ever needed one-on-one office hours he’d go through [that student’s] writing line by line.”

Klein offers his students the opportunity to come to his office hours for feedback on their writing before their deadlines. Students are often packed in the hallway in front of his office, waiting for their turn for feedback.

“I’m sorry that the students have to wait, but I’m proud that they wait for me and for what I can do to help them,” Klein said. “That’s a great satisfaction.”

He plans to continue working with students through his “Journalism for the Rest of Us” initiative. The initiative is part of the Northern Virginia Writing Project, a national movement of “teachers teaching teachers,” according to Klein.

With “Journalism for the Rest of Us,” Klein will work with students at Northern Virginia high schools to improve their writing.

“Journalism teaches you to write across multiple platforms, but [these students] don’t experience much other than MLA style,” Klein said. “I think they are ready [to learn AP style] and need it.”

Klein wants his students to understand that, above all else, writing is a four step process: reread, revise, rewrite and proofread.

“Good writing is rewriting,” Klein said. “Most of my students write well, it’s just the little things that hold them back. I try to teach my students to care about those little things.”

In retrospect, Klein sees the evolution and success of his students as his greatest achievement.

“The satisfaction of watching them grow…is why I’ve been at Mason for the past 14 years,” Klein said.

According to Klein, he decided this was a “good time to leave.” He attributed this timing primarily to personal reasons that he didn't want to comment on.

Klein added that he has the “energy and enthusiasm” to continue building Mason’s journalism program, but that his endeavors could result in a conflict of interest.

“I’ve done everything that I’m going to be allowed to do here,” Klein said. “If I tried to do anything else here, I would have to be very annoying, and I don’t care to annoy my colleagues further.”

Jannery was not able to comment on her plans for Mason’s journalism program and instead praised Klein for his impact. 

“Steve has been dedicated to the journalism program and has really made his mark,” Jannery said in a phone interview. “He got the program on a nice, solid foundation.” 

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