Digital Media Leader Named Knight Center Director, Kauffman Professor at ASU

Nov. 6, 2007

Dan Gillmor

Dan Gillmor, an internationally recognized author and leader in new media and citizen-based journalism, will be the founding director of the new Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University announced today.

Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media, will start Jan. 1 as Knight Center director and Kauffman Professor of Digital Media Entrepreneurship. He will hold the faculty rank of professor of practice.

As a longtime Silicon Valley-based journalist, Gillmor wrote a popular business and technology column for the San Jose Mercury News and launched a weblog in 1999, a site believed to have been the first mainstream journalism blog. In 2004 he published “We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People,” a book on citizen journalism that has been published in six languages.

The Center for Citizen Media, aimed at enhancing citizen journalism, is affiliated with the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where Gillmor has been lecturing in online journalism, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at the Harvard University Law School, where he is a fellow. Gillmor will retain the affiliation with the Berkman Center, and bring his citizen-media work to ASU.

Gillmor continues to write in blogs and other media, and is working on a new book about digital media literacy. He speaks frequently at conferences and major universities around the world on media and technology topics.

“Dan Gillmor has been a global leader in the digital media revolution,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “Our students will benefit enormously from his wisdom, creativity and collaborative style. He is perfectly suited to launch a center that we believe will be enormously important to the future of journalism and journalism education.”

The Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship is jointly funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City. The Knight grant is part of the foundation’s new Knight News Challenge. The Kauffman grant is part of a $5 million gift to Arizona State for entrepreneurship programs.

The Knight Center is designed to help students from journalism, computer engineering, business, design and other disciplines work together to create new digital media products. Projects will help build geographic communities – a key goal of the Knight Foundation – as well as instilling the spirit and skills of entrepreneurism, which has been a central focus of the Kauffman Foundation.

The Knight Center team will also include a second professor who will focus on the business elements of entrepreneurship. A search is under way to fill that position.

Gillmor, a 1981 graduate of the University of Vermont, started his journalism career at the Valley Voice in Middlebury, Vt., before moving to the Times Argus in Barre-Montpelier, Vt. In 1984 he joined the Kansas City Times, where he became regional correspondent covering politics and the rural economy. In 1988 he moved to the Detroit Free Press to cover transportation, regional affairs and technology. He joined the San Jose Mercury News in 1994, writing a widely read column and blog that chronicled the dot-com revolution in Silicon Valley, and technology’s wider impact on policy and society.

In 2005 Gillmor left the Mercury News to work on grassroots media projects, including Bayosphere, a for-profit citizen-media effort that did not achieve critical mass and was subsequently sold. He counts that failure as by far the most valuable learning experience of his career. He has subsequently been an early-stage investor in several new media startups including Silicon Valley-based Wikia Inc., founded by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Gillmor is co-founder of Helsinki-based Dopplr, a travel-related startup that recently received angel funding, and an upcoming media-related venture.

He serves on boards of directors or advisory boards for other organizations including the California First Amendment Coalition, the Knight New Media Center at USC and UC-Berkeley, Global Voices Online and NewsTrust. Before starting his journalism career, Gillmor was a professional musician.

“This new center is an ideal extension of the work I’ve been doing, and Arizona State is among the most forward-looking places in higher education today,” Gillmor said. “We’re still in the early days of this incredible shift in the media landscape. Innovation is a global affair now, and I’m looking forward to working with students from a variety of disciplines - and connecting them with people in the media, technology and investment communities in places like Silicon Valley - to develop their ideas into products and services.”

Gillmor is the 13th new full-time professor to join the Cronkite School in the past two years. Others include former CNN anchor Aaron Brown, former Minneapolis Star Tribune Editor Tim McGuire, BET Vice President Retha Hill and former Akron Beacon Journal Publisher James Crutchfield. New visiting professors include Ellen Soeteber, former editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who will be the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics.

The Cronkite School, a nationally recognized professional journalism program with 1,500 students, is also home to the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, the New Media Innovation Lab, the Knight Chair in Journalism and the Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism.

Cronkite students this year took first place nationally in both the Hearst Awards and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence awards.

The school, located on ASU’s Tempe campus, will move into a new six-story, $71 million journalism education complex in downtown Phoenix in August 2008.