The national News21 Initiative is part of an effort on the part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York to change the way journalism is taught in the U.S. and train a new generation of journalists capable of reshaping the news industry.
The Cronkite School serves as the national headquarters for the initiative, which includes top journalism students from across the country. Since 2008, the Cronkite School has been the recipient of nearly $10 million in grants from the two foundations to support the News21 program.
Students selected for the program participate – some of them via videoconference – in an intensive seminar in the spring semester of each year during which they research and hear from experts on a topic that will become the basis of a national investigation. The students then move into paid summer fellowships, during which they work out of the Cronkite School’s digital media complex in downtown Phoenix for 10 weeks in the summer. The fellows travel the country and sometimes go abroad to report stories and produce content for publication or broadcast across a number of platforms.
News21 national investigations have focused on food safety, transportation safety and voting rights. The 2013 project is focused on the return to civilian life of veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The student works gets wide national distribution through partnerships with The Washington Post, nbcnews.com and the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.
Students work under the direction of leading news veterans, including Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post; Jacquee Petchel, former senior editor for investigations and enterprise at The Houston Chronicle; and Steve Doig, Knight Chair in Journalism and an expert in computer-assisted reporting. Their work has been recognized with numerous awards from the Online News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of News Design, among others.
Other members of the summer News21 team include Retha Hill, former vice president for content for BET Interactive and director of the Cronkite School's Digital Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, who serves as the newsroom's digital leader, collaborating with students on how to best tell their investigative stories in innovative and compelling ways on multiple platforms; Steve Doig, a Pulitzer Prize-winning computer-assisted-reporting specialist and the school's Knight Chair in Journalism, who provides data analysis expertise and support; Micah Jamison, chief Web developer for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, who works with fellows throughout the summer to help operationalize their digital visions and innovations; and Associate Dean Kristin Gilger, former deputy managing editor of The Arizona Republic, who provides project oversight.
Carnegie and Knight launched News21 in 2005 as a cornerstone of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative with five universities: the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, Harvard University, Northwestern University and the University of Southern California. Three years later, seven other schools were added: ASU, University of Maryland, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of North Carolina, University of Texas and Syracuse University.
In 2011, News21 was opened to all journalism schools. New schools that joined the program in 2012 are Elon University, the University of Florida, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oregon.
Fellows for the 2013 project came from 12 universities: Arizona State University, Central Michigan University, Florida International University, University of Florida, Kent State University, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of Oklahoma, University of Oregon and University of Texas.
News21 is supported by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as well as The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation of Omaha, Neb., and Women & Philanthropy, part of the ASU Foundation.
News21 is the latest digital news program at the Cronkite School, which has taken a national leadership role in preparing students for the dramatic changes in the news industry triggered by the digital revolution. Cronkite already is home to the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, in which students learn to create and launch their own online news products; the New Media Innovation Lab, which serves as a research and development lab for news companies looking for digital solutions; and the Azcentral.com Multimedia Reporting Program, a partnership with The Arizona Republic in which students cover breaking news in multiple media for the newspaper’s website.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. The Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change.
About the Carnegie Corporation of New York
Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," is one of the oldest, largest and most influential of American grant-making foundations. The foundation makes grants to promote international peace and to advance education and knowledge.
About the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was founded by Edith Kinney Gaylord, the daughter of Daily Oklahoman Publisher E.K. Gaylord. Ms. Gaylord created the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in 1982 to improve the quality of journalism by supporting research and creative projects that promote excellence and foster high ethical standards in journalism.
About the Hearst Foundations
Publisher and philanthropist William Randolph Hearst founded The Hearst Foundation Inc. in 1945. Three years later he established the California Charities Foundation, which was renamed the William Randolph Hearst Foundation in 1951. Today the foundations operate as a single entity under the name the Hearst Foundations and function as private philanthropic organizations independent of The Hearst Corporation. The foundations’ funding priorities include the fields of education, health, culture and social service.
About the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed over $115 million nationwide through its Journalism Program.
About Women & Philanthropy
Women & Philanthropy is part of the ASU Foundation. The group inspires and empowers accomplished women to become visionary investors through a collective, significant force supporting a range of ASU activities, including research, educational and health care initiatives, community outreach programs and student scholarships.
About the Peter Kiewit Foundation
The Peter Kiewit Foundation was formed in 1979 and is committed to charitable endeavors in Omaha, Neb., and the surrounding region. The foundation awards grants in the areas of education, the arts, children and families, community development, health and human services.