USC Pop Culture Expert is Scripps Howard ‘Journalism Teacher of the Year’

First off, just how much fun does a university project named “The Image of the Journalist in Pop Culture” sound?

The massive database at USC’s Norman Lear Center, launched in 2000, now encompasses more than 76,000 records. The goal is to “investigate and analyze the conflicting images of the journalist in film, television, radio, fiction, commercials, cartoons, comic books, music, art, demonstrating their impact on the American public’s perception of newsgatherers.” And the man who oversees the program, Joe Saltzman (pictured), has just been voted 2010’s Journalism and Mass Communication Teacher of the Year by the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Saltzman edged out two other category finalists – the University of Illinois’ Steve Helle and Boston University’s Caryl Rivers. He will receive $10,000 and the Charles E. Scripps Award at a May 3rd presentation ceremony.

The long-time teacher and faculty member is no stranger to awards. At the outset of his career in the 1960s, the USC grad earned many kudos at CBS TV in Los Angeles for works such as Black on Black, a 90-minute look at what it was like to be black in 1967 urban America. He is also the author of Frank Capra and the Image of the Journalist in American Film.

P.S. Also representing LA on this year’s Scripps Howards honor roll is the LA Times, which won the Public Service Reporting award for its series “Grading the Teachers.”

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.