Education Funding

Knight Foundation Grants Cultivate New Generation of Journalists

By Alan Richard — October 29, 2003 3 min read
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High school journalism won’t be out of circulation any time soon. At least that’s the goal of nearly $8 million in grants awarded this year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Miami-based foundation recently announced a $5 million grant to the American Society of Newspaper Editors Foundation, based in Reston, Va.

The grant will help the ASNE foundation expand the number of $5,000 grants it gives schools to start or improve campus newspapers and Web sites.

The money also will help the foundation continue its free training for journalism teachers during summer workshops at universities, and will support a free Web platform for schools to put their students’ publications online.

A separate, $4.8 million grant in 2001 helped the ASNE foundation start its Web site that offers guidance and communication tools for journalism teachers and students. That grant also bolstered the foundation’s work with students on First Amendment issues.

“As many as 40 percent of high schools today have either struggling, or no student media,” said Diana Mitsu Klos, a former daily-newspaper editor in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who oversees the scholastic-journalism work at the ASNE foundation.

Information on the school journalism programs is available from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation.

The Knight Foundation and its partners hope the projects will foster creativity and educational activities in schools. Officials of the philanthropy also want young people to know more about the importance of the First Amendment, as potential future journalists and as consumers of newspapers, television and radio, and the Web.

Larry Meyer, the vice president of communications for the Knight Foundation, said the foundation was “worried about the pipeline of young people going into journalism,” and wanted to invest in the future of the field as an important function in a free society.

The Knight Foundation awards millions of dollars for community projects, often including youth development, in communities served by newspapers formerly owned by the Knight family, including cities such as Charlotte, N.C., Detroit, and San Jose, Calif.

In March, the Knight Foundation awarded $2.6 million to the Washington-based Radio and Television News Directors Foundation to start and improve electronic-journalism programs in schools.

Smaller grants to Native American and Asian-American journalists’ national associations, and to others, will coincide with the school-focused work of the ASNE and the broadcast news directors’ group.

The news directors’ foundation will use its grant to continue free training at regional TV- and radio-news directors’ conferences. Journalism teachers are invited to daylong workshops, then can attend the same broadcast-journalism meetings along with their local news directors.

Reaching Out

In another of its programs, the news directors’ foundation chooses 15 teacher “ambassadors” each year to attend a national conference and receive more training. The teachers return to their communities to help train colleagues in how to use broadcasting equipment and in the ethics and techniques of journalism.

In addition, broadcasting stations can seek grants of up to $5,000 to create student projects. Public-radio stations in New York City and Washington, for instance, have teenage correspondents who research, write, and broadcast their own news reports.

“It’s a way for professional newspeople to reach the young people who will be the audiences of tomorrow and the news staffs of tomorrow,” said Barbara Cochran, the president of the news directors’ foundation.

Cadence Turner-Garvin, who teaches journalism at the 2,700-student Curtis High School in New York’s Staten Island borough, said she has used the ASNE literature and Web site extensively to develop her students’ journalism skills.

She said her students have enjoyed the visits and guidance from editors at their local newspaper, the Staten Island Advance.

A longtime yearbook adviser, Ms. Turner-Garvin said the partnership and ASNE materials are helping her students improve their school newspaper, The Log. “We plan on going on the Internet with the newspaper, definitely,” she said last week.

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