Susan Kirkman Zake is a professor and the newsroom adviser to the school’s award-winning student media. She teaches culminating experience reporting classes that include Solutions Journalism and data skills.
She launched the Collaborative News Lab @ Kent State University in May 2020 to create an experiential learning environment that connects student reporters with outside professional partners. The mutually beneficial arrangement helps the students become stronger journalists while helping fill reporting gaps for the partners.
Before joining the faculty in 2007, Zake was the managing editor for multimedia and special projects at the Akron Beacon Journal, where she began work as a staff photographer in 1986. Over a 20-year career, she worked as an assignment editor, picture editor, graphics editor, assistant metro editor and assistant managing editor.
She is the recipient of numerous awards for her photojournalist images—the photography, graphics and design staffs she supervised were recognized locally, nationally and internationally for the quality of their work.
Zake also shares in three Pulitzer Prize team awards; for coverage of the attempted takeover of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.; for A Question of Color, which examined local attitudes toward race; and for coverage of Hurricane Katrina as part of a Knight Ridder editing team working for the Biloxi Sun Herald.
In 2017, she was recognized as a Tow-Knight Disruptive Journalism Educator. Most recently, she researched and curated the photographs for May 4, 1970: The Kent State Story in Pictures, published by Pediment Publishing in March.
Zake is the 2020 recipient of the Distinguished Adviser Award for Four-Year Multimedia from the College Media Association (CMA).