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Carnegie-Knight Funds Medill Initiative For New Classes

July 9, 2008
EVANSTON, ILL. – The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University is among several journalism schools to receive funding for new classes in an $11-million initiative announced by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The three-year funding at Medill will support new classes in networked journalism and reporting on immigration, and a News21 competitive fellows program in which 10-12 graduates tackle in-depth reporting on a specific topic.

Medill is one of the founding schools in the Carnegie-Knight initiative that began in 2006. The grant in the previous three-year cycle underwrote new classes about the press and the military; statistics and quantitative reasoning for journalists; and fellows programs on national security and religion.

Currently, 11 Medill fellows are reporting on politics and climate change. Editorial coordinator Abigail Foerstner said the fellows' text, multimedia and interactive work will explore "the power and impotence of international, national and local governments as they confront the lifeblood issues of climate change -- water resources, energy alternatives, energy costs, food prices and climate forecasting. We'll sort out the science and politics of these issues that hit hard at family livelihoods, global economies and national security." 

As the quarter progresses, reporting can be viewed at http://news21project.org/ and will be carried by this year's national news partner, npr.org. In previous years, stories generated by students in the News21 incubator have been published or broadcast by news organizations including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, L.A. Weekly, Forbes.com, the Associated Press, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and CNN.

Faculty in this summer's News 21 program are Foerstner, Janice Castro, Eric Ferkenhoff, Cynthia Linton and Alissa Swango. The fellows are: Frank Carlson, Kahrin Deines, Dori Glanz, Ryan Graff, Eric Kroh, Angela Nitzke, John Robert Runyan III, Rupa Shenoy, Phil Taylor, Kayla Webley, and Lauren Williamson. Read their biographies here.

In 2009-2011, Medill professors Rich Gordon and Jack Doppelt -- working with faculty from other Northwestern University disciplines -- will develop and offer new undergraduate and graduate classes in immigration and networked journalism.

Doppelt's class, "Connecting with Immigrant and Multi-Ethnic Communities," will teach students about the local, national and international immigration phenomenon as a baseline. Its greater intent is to use multi-media reporting to engage foreign-born and first generation immigrants in their communities and in civic affairs.

In Gordon's class, "Journalism in a Networked World," students will study the role of journalism in a world of content-based networks based on hyperlinks and interpersonal networks built through computer-mediated communications.

The topic for the 2009 fellows program has yet to be determined.

The Carnegie-Knight initiative will fund curriculum enhancement and student fellowships at 11 journalism schools and one research center: Medill at Northwestern University; University of Southern California; University of Texas at Austin; University of Maryland; Columbia University; University of Missouri; Syracuse University; University of California at Berkeley; Arizona State University; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; and Joan Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

In announcing the initiative's expansion, Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian spoke about the centrality to a fully functioning democracy of well-informed, bold journalists. "Today's journalists must be steeped in experience and deeply knowledgeable about the subjects they report on," Gregorian said. "To understand the underlying ideas and possible ramifications of import, even truly transformative events, requires that journalists be trained and informed enough to deal with complex, nuanced information with a richness and depth."

"Although traditional models of newspaper, radio and local television news dissemination are severely challenged," said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation, "every community in this democracy continues to have a core need for reliable information, news that informs and news that helps build the common language that builds community. That need will not go away and provide hope for future journalists. They will tell those stories with traditional, verification-journalism values but on multiple platforms and structures influenced by new technology. Journalism can train them to do that and, in that sense, journalism schools have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead the industry. Carnegie and Knight want them to succeed."