Every other Sunday, Sheryl McCarthy pores over a PDF of the Knight News before it goes to press. Just as she’s done as a columnist for major dailies, she will offer candid, constructive comments. Once a college journalist herself, she enjoys critiquing the writers and editors of QC’s award-winning student newspaper. They’re “very dedicated, they work very hard, and they’re fun to be around,” she says.
An op-ed contributor to USA Today, McCarthy trained her journalistic voice as a New York Newsday columnist who took thought-provoking stands on social and political issues. After that paper folded in 1995, she became nationally syndicated through its parent company until it, too, was “eviscerated” in 2005, she notes.
Now in her third year of teaching journalism and mentoring students at Queens College, McCarthy also hosts “One to One” on CUNY cable TV. In talking with students about critical issues in journalism, she can draw upon her extensive experience as a reporter in Boston, Baltimore, and New York; education editor for the New York Daily News; national correspondent for ABC-TV News; and talk show host on WNET-TV and WNYC-TV. Among her honors was a Nieman Fellowship from Harvard.
Coming of age in Birmingham’s civil rights battleground, McCarthy aspired to move people in the way that To Kill a Mockingbird had, she recalls. After graduating from Mt. Holyoke College, she couldn’t earn a living writing fiction. However, “by being a journalist, you were also being a storyteller,” she discovered. “I just wanted to tell the truth about things that interested me. I still do. There are a lot of truths to be told.”
Two of her favorite books about “the arc of life”: The Waves by Virginia Woolf and Are You Somebody? by Nuala O’Faolain.
Surprising fact: A “very good” pianist growing up, as an adult she has sung in well-known choral groups, given two voice recitals, and been a paid church choir singer. “Music has played a real big part in my life,” she affirms. “I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of singing.”