Juan Manuel Benítez joins Columbia Journalism School as Philip S. Balboni Professor of Local Journalism
Juan Manuel Benítez, an award-winning bilingual journalist based in New York City whose work has broadened access to news concerning politics, climate change and local issues, has joined Columbia Journalism School as the Philip S. Balboni Professor of Professional Practice of Local Journalism.
“By educating the next generation of journalists on key aspects of local reporting, our school aims to further establish itself as a stronghold of democratic ideals,” said Jelani Cobb, Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism. “Local news has unfortunately been weakened over the last few decades, but great reporters like Juan Manuel are the cornerstone of this vital aspect of journalism — and they are moving the industry forward.”
Benítez started his career in journalism as a reporter for Hispanic Market Weekly, and has focused much of his reporting on and for the Latino and Hispanic communities in New York. He comes to CJS most recently from Spectrum News NY1, a station he joined in 2003 as a reporter before launching its Spanish-language sister station, NY1 Noticias. For the last 18 years, he hosted “Pura Política,” a political talk show covering current events relevant to the Latino community. He also offered wider context to his reporting as the co-host of the award-winning podcast “Off Topic/On Politics.”
NY1 and NY1 Noticias are part of Spectrum News, a network of more than 30 local news and regional sports channels.
“I’m thrilled to join the Columbia University Journalism School faculty and eager to help shape the future of local journalism in New York and beyond,” Benítez said.
For over fifteen years, Benítez has extensively covered the administrations of mayors Michael Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio, and Eric Adams — as well as countless political campaigns, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 primary for the Democratic presidential nomination. He has also served as a moderator and panelist in many electoral debates.
Benítez has also guest hosted on many programs, including WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” and featured as a political commentator for MSNBC and other outlets. Additionally, he has worked as a columnist for publications such as El Diario La Prensa.
His coverage of the climate crisis has taken him not only around the United States, but the world — Benítez earned his Emmy Award for a story on climate adaptation here in New York. He is also the recipient of The New York Press Club and The New York State Associated Press Association awards. He came to New York as a La Caixa fellow.
For more than a decade, he taught as an adjunct professor at CUNY’s Craig Newmark School of Journalism, where he designed its bilingual program. Benítez earned his master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and his bachelor’s degree in Anglo-German Language and Literature from the University of Extremadura. He has also been a student at the University of Heidelberg, the University of Lisbon, and Kalamazoo College.
The professorship is named for Philip Balboni, Class of 1971, a journalist and entrepreneur who has worked continuously since 1967 for newspapers and wire services, in local broadcast and cable television and, since 2008, in digitally native media. He is the former vice president and news director of WCVB-TV and the founder and former president of New England Cable News. He is the co-founder and former CEO of GlobalPost, and is currently the founder, CEO and Executive Editor of DailyChatter, the largest daily newsletter in the US devoted to world news. He was a member of the School’s Board of Visitors for almost 20 years and currently is a long-time member of the Advisory Board of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.