Journalism Professor’s Book Named Best in Nation

SUNY New Paltz Journalism Professor Robert Miraldi’s biography of a famous American investigative reporter has been named the best journalism biography in the United States in 2013.

The announcement of the Ann Sperber Biography Award came out recently from Fordham University which administers the prestigious prize. Dr. Miraldi, a professor at New Paltz since 1982, will receive his award on Nov. 19 at Fordham’s Manhattan campus.

Professor Brian Rose, acting director of the Sperber Awards for 2014, praised the book as “a probing and provocative investigation of this country’s premier investigative journalist.”

Miraldi’s book, Seymour Hersh: Scoop Artist, chronicles the work of Hersh from the late 1950s to the present day as he wrote story after story that made national headlines, caused controversy and changed America public policy. Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for his exposé of the massacre of hundreds of civilians in the village of My Lai in Vietnam in 1968. He then, in 2004, revealed the story of the torture of Iraqis in a prison at Abu Ghraib. Hersh is the author of eight controversial and best-selling books and has won virtually every major award in journalism.

Miraldi joins a distinguished list of biographers who have won the Sperber Award for books on subjects ranging from Walter Cronkite to William Randolph Hearst to Henry Luce, all major figures in American journalism.

“I worked on this Hersh biography for nearly a decade,” Miraldi commented. “So it is gratifying to receive this award and see my Hersh work in with some wonderful other biographies. Hersh is perhaps America’s greatest investigative reporter, and his work deserves this recognition.”

Miraldi added, “The book has a dimension beyond Hersh’s work. He is an iconic figure — irreverent, brash, indefatigable, headstrong, arrogant, and passionate. He is really a great American character.”

The 445-page book, which was published by Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press, came out last fall and was named one of the 10 best investigative books in the U.S. by Harvard University’s Nieman Reports. The History News Network called it “refreshingly readable and very impressive.”

Miraldi came to New Paltz in 1982 after a career as a reporter. He teaches courses on freedom of speech, press history and news reporting. He has won many awards for his writing and research and was named one of America’s top journalism teachers by the Poynter Institute in 1989.

In 2004, his biography, The Pen Is Mightier (Palgrave/Macmillan Books), was named the best book in the country in media and journalism. That book told the life story of a famous turn-of-the-twentieth century investigative reporter, Charles Edward Russell, who was the most prolific of the so-called “muckraking” journalists.

Dr. Miraldi, who has a PhD in American Studies and a master’s degree in journalism, thanked SUNY New Paltz for its support of this book with a sabbatic leave, reduced teaching time to write, and various grants to fund research.

Miraldi lives in Stone Ridge, N.Y, with his wife, Mary Beth Pfeiffer, a reporter. He has two children and two grandchildren.

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