Alumna Editor of Time Returns to Teach This Fall

Posted: August 2, 2006

Is Time on our side?

That's one of the questions students in Priscilla Painton's class will tackle this fall, as the alumna and executive editor of Time magazine returns to teach a journalism course--Can You Trust a Journalist?--to students interested in how the news business really works.

The course is described this way in the online catalogue:

"In the age of Jayson Blair, Judy Miller, and Mary Mapes, it is hard to remember that there are rules, expectations, and obligations to the job of finding out the truth about a situation. This course … will examine what they are, where they came from, if they make sense, and how they are ignored. It will also look at all the tools journalists use to make a story seductive, and the ones editors use to make a magazine an arresting experience."

"I am really looking forward to trying to convey the passion journalists can have for what they do," Painton said, "and I hope to learn from the students themselves what they see as the future for this profession."

Painton '80 brings a wide variety of journalistic expertise to her role as teacher. As executive editor of Time, she weighs in on a range of editorial decisions and plays a key role in the week-to-week editing of the magazine, as well as taking on "Person of the Year" issues or annual cover stories such as "The Making of America" series. Painton is responsible for national news. She also handles the society section, which produces pieces about American life in its homes, schools, courts, neighborhoods and churches.

Before assuming her current title in January 2002, Painton was an assistant managing editor. Before that, she was responsible for Time's political reporting. As the magazine's national editor for six years she helped guide readers through the re-election of Bill Clinton in 1996, the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich, and the campaign of 2000 and its vote-counting battle that led to George W. Bush's assumption of the presidency in December of that year. She and her team produced that year's "Person of the Year" cover story on George W. Bush. In 1998, she oversaw the magazine's coverage of the Kenneth Starr investigation and President's Clinton's impeachment trial and edited Time's "Men of the Year" cover story on Kenneth Starr and Bill Clinton.

Painton is one of a number of Mount Holyoke alumnae in journalism who have worked with the College to provide expanded opportunities for students. Last year, both Pamela Maffei McCarthy '74, senior vice president/deputy editor at the New Yorker, and Nancy Novogrod '71, editor in chief of Travel and Leisure and editorial director of American Express Publishing Corporation, hosted trips for two journalism classes taught by Meg Murphy, visiting instructor in English. Trustee Sheryl McCarthy '69, a former columnist for Newsday, helped coordinate efforts to expand access to alumnae journalists to the on-campus community.