Groundbreaking researcher, former media executive Penny Abernathy to retire from UNC

When Penelope ‘Penny’ Muse Abernathy was a high school senior in Laurinburg, N.C., her school newspaper made a projection: their editor would one day be at The New York Times.

Penny Muse AbernathyIt was an accurate forecast, if an incomplete one. Abernathy’s career has led her to executive positions at the Times, Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal, and to Columbia University for a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship, an MBA and an M.S. in Journalism. She has published two books and received international attention for her groundbreaking research on the state of local journalism and the rise of news deserts across the country.

As Abernathy retires as the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media after 12 years, she says she is most proud of how her experience, knowledge and dogged truth-seeking have come together at Carolina in one serendipitous role – teacher.

“It is a wonderful notion that, as a college instructor, you get to plant the seed.”

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