Joe Starita is a professor in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. For the past 10 years, he has taught many of the college's depth reporting classes - classes designed to give students the skills to probe deeply into a focused topic while also providing some international reporting opportunities. To that end, he has taken groups of students to Cuba, France and Sri Lanka. Closer to home, he has co-taught a depth reporting class that exhaustively examined the pros and cons of corn-based ethanol and a legislative attempt to significantly strengthen state immigration laws. His classes also have produced two depth reports focused on Native American women.
Before joining the journalism faculty in 2000, Starita spent 13 years at the Miami Herald and served as the paper's New York bureau chief from 1983-1987. He also spent four years on the Herald's Investigations Team, where he specialized in stories exposing unethical doctors and lawyers. One of those stories, an article examining how impoverished and illiterate Haitians were being used to extort insurance companies into settling bogus auto claims, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in local reporting.
Interested in American Indian history and culture since his youth, Starita returned to his native Nebraska in 1992 and began work on a three-year book project about five generations of an Indian family. "The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge - A Lakota Odyssey" was published in 1995 by G.P. Putnam and Sons (New York), has been translated into six foreign languages and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
In 2009, St. Martin's Press published Starita's "I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice," a book on the life and death of Standing Bear, the Ponca chief who, in 1879, unwittingly ended up in the crosshairs of a landmark legal case. That book was the One Book-One Lincoln selection for 2011 and the One Book One Nebraska pick for 2012. In July 2011, Starita received the Leo Reano Award, a national civil rights award, from the National Education Association for his work with the Native American community.