Robert Miraldi is an award-winning journalist and author who has taught at the State University of New York’s College at New Paltz for 30 years. He is a popular professor who teaches both advanced and introductory news writing classes, along with classes on the history and law of the press. His specialty is “muckraking” or investigative journalism about which he has written two books. He is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on the history and practice of investigative reporting.
Dr. Miraldi came to New Paltz in 1982 after nearly a decade as a reporter and two years teaching journalism at St. John’s University in New York City. He has served as Chair of the Department of Communication and Media and overseen New Paltz’s Journalism Program for many years. In 1992 he was a Fulbright Scholar, lecturing on the American press in the Netherlands.
In the fall of 2003 his book, The Pen Is Mightier: the Muckraking Life of Charles Edward Russell, was published by Palgrave/St. Martin’s Press. The book was named the best book in the country in journalism and mass media by Kappa Tau Alpha, the national college honor society. The biography recreates the turbulent and controversial life of a forgotten but once-famous turn-of-the-century investigative reporter who wrote 31 books and hundreds of magazine articles. Russell (1860-1941) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1927.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Sydney Schanberg called the book “eye-opening…a roiling front-row ride through the tempestuous American landscape.” Schanberg added: “This important book is not about dry and antiquated matters. It will seize you.” Columbia University Journalism historian Andie Tucher called the book “an indispensable work on a fascinating and complex man.”
Dr. Miraldi is currently close to completing a biography on investigative reporter and journalist Seymour Hersh, the winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his exposé of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Miraldi’s book is entitled Scoop Artist: The World According to Seymour Hersh/ From My Lai to Abu Ghraib. It is the first full-length book on Hersh, who is an icon in American journalism. It will be published by Potomac Books of Washington, D.C., in 2013.
Professor Miraldi’s most recent book (2009) is an anthology of the war reporting of Schanberg, who was a New York Times foreign correspondent. Beyond the Killing Fields, War Writings was published in 2010 by Potomac Books. It includes Schanberg’s dramatic story of his capture by the Communist guerillas in Cambodia in 1975 and the story of his trusted aide, Dith Pran, who hid for months before finding his freedom. The story became the basis for the Academy Award-winning movie, The Killings Fields. The book showcases Schanberg’s taut and dramatic reporting from various war zones over a 40-year career.
Miraldi edited an earlier anthology that collects 50 years of stories written by author Roger Kahn, who is considered by many to be the best sportswriter in America. Entitled Beyond the Boys of Summer: The Very Best of Roger Kahn, the book was published in the spring of 2005 by McGraw-Hill and received sterling reviews. Miraldi writes a long introductory essay that provides a context for Kahn’s prolific, powerful and poignant writing. It also enabled Miraldi to return to his roots since he began his career in 1966 as a sports writer. About the book, one reviewer said: “Miraldi makes us feel like we’ve known Kahn for years and helps us understand Kahn’s perspectives on life, writing, and of course sports.”
Before coming to New Paltz, Miraldi was a reporter for the Staten Island Advance in New York City. Working at this 100,000-circulation daily newspaper, he wrote about the mentally disabled, institutional care of the aged, and the environment. His reporting earned numerous awards. He was instrumental in helping close the former Willowbrook State School, a scandal-plagued home for the developmentally disabled. His reporting on the Staten Island Greenbelt helped convince New York City to turn this 5,000-acre woodland into American’s largest urban park.
From 1992 to 2000 he wrote a column of commentary on freedom of speech for the Poughkeepsie Journal, a daily newspaper in New York’s Hudson Valley. This monthly column won numerous national and state awards. For two years it was named the best column of commentary on legal matters in New York State as Miraldi mixed talking about cases of free speech violations in the Hudson Valley of New York with often alarming events taking place on the national stage. The column complemented Professor Miraldi’s popular free speech class on Mass Media Law that he has long taught at New Paltz.
Dr. Miraldi’s first book, Muckraking and Objectivity: Journalism’s Colliding Traditions, was published by Greenwood Press in 1991. It was called a “hidden gem” by one reviewer, a book that compared the vastly different styles of journalism from the early 1900s to the late 20th century. Miraldi argued for a new flexibility for reporters that would allow them to advance progressive causes without being stifled by journalism’s often rigid rules of neutrality. He then edited an anthology, The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders, which was published in the fall of 2000. The book showed how many of the early investigative reporters in America were compelled by evangelical and passionate values in trying to improve conditions for Americans. It urged a return to those old-fashioned values in the fast-changing media landscape.
Dr. Miraldi was named a Fulbright scholar in 1992. He lectured at the Royal University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and also at the country’s largest journalism training institute, also in Utrecht. He gave various lectures throughout the country on the role of the American press in a democratic society. And he was the first Fulbright Scholar in the country to lecture on the function on the press. Miraldi was also named one of America’s outstanding journalism professors in 1990 by the prestigious Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In the mid-1980s Miraldi was largely responsible for creating the Journalism Program at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The program was the first such journalism major in the public university system in New York and remains the largest and most active program in the state today.
Miraldi helped develop the college’s first endowed professorship named after newspaper entrepreneur James. H. Ottaway Se He oversaw the professorship for its first decade, recruiting Pulitzer Prize-winning and award-winning journalists to come to the college and teach on the New Paltz campus which is located about 70 miles from New York City.
Miraldi is married to Mary Beth Pfeiffer, an award-winning newspaper reporter. His son, Robert, is director of communication for a company located in Kingston, N.Y. and his daughter, Sara Elspeth Schneller, is a high school teacher in Schenectady, N.Y. He lives in the historic hamlet of Stone Ridge, N.Y. in the mid-Hudson Valley.
Mass Media Law
Press in America
Public Affairs Reporting
Introductory News writing
B.A., Political Science, SUNY Oneonta, 1972
M.S., Journalism, Boston University, 1974
Ph.D., American Studies, NYU, 1985
Reporter, Staten Island Advance, 1974-1980
Public Relations Counsel, New York State Assembly, 1980-1982
Columnist, Free speech column, Poughkeepsie Journal, 1992-2000
FELLOWSHIPS AND AWARDS
• First prize, Frank Luther Mott Award, Best book in U.S. 2003, The Pen Is Mightier
• Second Prize, Column writing in New York State, Associated Press, 1999.
• First prize, Distinguished column writing, New York Newspaper Publishers Association, 1998.
• Runner-up Finalist, Scripps-Howard National Journalism Awards, Edward Willis Scripps Award for the First Amendment, 1996.
• Honorable Mention, Intellectual Freedom Award, New York State Library Association, 1996.
• Runner-up Finalist, Scripps-Howard National Journalism Awards, Edward Willis Scripps Award for the First Amendment, 1994.
• John Peter Zenger Award, New York State Bar Association, Best commentary on legal issues in New York State, 1994.
• John Peter Zenger Award, New York State Bar Association, Best commentary on legal issues in New York State, 1993.
• Fulbright Scholar, Royal University at Utrecht, the Netherlands for Spring 1991.