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Grant To Train Journalists On National Security Issues

The Medill School has been awarded a three-year, $1.35 million grant from the McCormick Foundation to launch an Initiative on National Security and Civil Liberties.

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September 29, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University's Medill School has been awarded a three-year, $1.35 million grant from the McCormick Foundation to launch an Initiative on National Security and Civil Liberties.

The grant will enable Medill to develop a sequence of graduate and undergraduate classes; offer in-service training to working journalists; and host an annual conference for the growing number of academics and professionals who work in the field.

"This is a unique initiative in journalism education. As the number and complexity of these issues continue to grow, it is important for the public to be far better informed," said Medill Dean John Lavine. "Because of this grant, the next generation of journalists and today's working professionals will gain a more sophisticated understanding about these matters and find more effective ways to tell the public about them. From terrorism to natural disasters to individual liberties, our goal is for journalists to better engage the public on these critical topics."

Lavine said that Medill faculty will work with others at Northwestern to develop and deliver the program. He noted that professors' expertise on these topics and in digital storytelling -- combined with Medill's other locations in Chicago, Washington D.C. and Qatar -- will enable Medill to develop strong, innovative classes. In the last few years, Medill faculty have piloted related courses on these topics.

Medill's new curriculum, introduced last year, emphasizes public affairs reporting. Lavine said that when faculty did research for the National Security and Civil Liberties Initiative, they discovered that no other journalism school offered students the opportunity to focus on these collective topics. "Yet they are among the top issues that citizens care about and need to know about," he said.

David L. Grange, McCormick Foundation president and chief executive officer, said, "This grant addresses the foundation's mission to support a free, vigorous and diverse news media."

Inquiries about the Medill National Security and Civil Liberties Initiative should be directed to Associate Dean for Curriculum Mary Nesbitt at m-nesbitt@northwestern.edu.