Thursday, May 26, 2005
5 Leading Institutions Start Journalism Education Effort - New York Times (fwd)
Subject: 5 Leading Institutions Start Journalism Education Effort - New York Times
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
The New York Times
Published: May 26, 2005
The leaders of five of the nation's most prominent journalism programs are joining in a three-year, $6 million effort to try to elevate the standing of journalism in academia and find ways to prepare journalists better.
The unusual collaboration, which has been developing for three years, involves Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University; Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley; Loren Ghiglione, dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University; Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California; and Alex S. Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.
Their goal is to revitalize journalism education by jointly undertaking national investigative reporting projects, integrating their journalism programs more deeply with other disciplines at their universities and providing a national platform to try to influence the discourse on media-related issues.
"Journalism as a whole is clearly in something of a crisis," Mr. Schell said. As journalistic scandals crop up with more frequency, surveys show trust in the news media eroding, newspaper circulation declining and young people disengaged from newspapers and television news.
"Those of us who run journalism schools are confronted with the prospect of ever fewer distinguished media outlets - especially in broadcast - to which we can aspire to send our students to work," Mr. Schell added. "So this is a time not only to try and make journalism schools as relevant as possible to the evolving profession, but also to have universities begin to weigh in on the debate about what happens in the media."
The effort is being supported by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation, and Hodding Carter III, president of the Knight Foundation, are to announce the initiative today in New York, with Carnegie pledging $2.4 million for the first two years and Knight pledging $1.7 million for the first two years.
Mr. Gregorian said the presidents of all five universities had pledged to support the initiative both institutionally and financially for its third year, assuming it met certain benchmarks of success in the first two years.
"This is not just another grant," Mr. Gregorian said. "It is a vision for what journalism schools can become when they are clearly part of a university president's priorities." He said journalism schools were doing their best, "but their best is not good enough in this complex day and age."
The money wil l be used for three main purposes: to develop national investigative reporting projects that would hire the best students and be written or broadcast in collaboration with major news organizations; to create a media policy task force at the Shorenstein Center to conduct research and coordinate the views and voices of the deans and university presidents in debates over media issues; and to develop more innovative curriculums by pairing journalists with scientists, historians, economists and other scholars on their campuses.
To get the national reporting project off the ground, an "incubator" program has been set up for this summer at ABC News, where 10 students, two from each of the schools, will help produce a program about the Sept. 11 attacks.
In subsequent years, the "incubator" program, to be called "News 21" for the 21st century and the perspective of people under 21, will be based at each campus. A national manager will coordinate the student reporting and work with national news outlets to get the projects on the air, in print or online.
While journalists have long debated the value of journalism schools, Mr. Schell, who did not attend journalism school, said he now thought such institutions were more vital than they might have been in the past.
"Things have changed substantially since we came up the journalistic food chain," he said. "As news cycles have gotten faster and more bottom-line driven, there has been less inclination and capacity in media outlets to train, mentor and guide upcoming generations."
Mr. Carter said more people were becoming journalists by way of journalism school than "through any other portal." But journalism programs are insufficient, he said, in preparing students for the real world.
"Virtually everything in journalism is, at the moment, insufficient and in a state of flux," he said. "Basic principles do not change, but the environment in which they must be applied is changing radically. So should the education of those who must work within that environment."
* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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