BATON ROUGE, La.—A senior New York Times editor has been named the first Wendell Gray Switzer Jr. Endowed Chair in Media Literacy at the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU. The chair is the only one of its kind in the country devoted to teaching and researching media literacy. Leonard Apcar will join the Manship faculty after a 24-year career at The Times that included business, international and Washington editing posts, as well as web editor-in-chief and chief Asia editor.
“Both the public and those in the media need better tools to evaluate information and information sources, whether it’s news or advertising, especially with the growth of social media and the disruptions that have revolutionized how we take in information,” said Manship Dean Jerry Ceppos.
“Len’s variety of experiences, especially his role in shaping The Times’ online presence at a critical point during the media revolution, makes him perfect for this position.”
LSU’s Manship School, long a leader in education in media and public affairs, wants to be at the forefront of media-literacy education in the United States with the Switzer chair.
Apcar will teach media-literacy courses, conduct research in media-literacy and public-policy issues, and help organize media-literacy workshops, conferences and symposia locally and nationally. As a professional-in-residence he also will be a fellow at the Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, which examines social, economic and political issues at the intersection of media and public affairs.
“The Switzer chair is a great opportunity to build a leading program in media literacy, and I am very excited and honored to be the first to hold it,” Apcar said.
Apcar held several top editing roles on the Times’ business and foreign desks for more than a decade before serving as editor-in-chief of NYTimes.com, from 2002-2006, when it became an industry pacesetter in online news and multimedia story-telling.
Later, he was chief Asia editor based in Hong Kong for the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The Times. From 2010 to 2013, he was Washington news editor and economics-policy editor of The Times. Earlier he was a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Detroit, Washington and Dallas, and business editor of The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
Apcar received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., and his master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Funding for the chair was a gift from the late Kevin Reilly Sr. and his wife, Dee Dee Reilly. It is named for Mrs. Reilly’s brother, who died while serving in the military. The chair also received matching funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents.