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12 J-Schools Participate in News21 Voter Rights Investigation

March 25, 2012

Top journalism students from 12 universities around the country will conduct a national investigative reporting project on voting rights as part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 in-depth journalism program.

The program, headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, is an effort on the part of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to change the way journalism is taught and prepare a new generation of journalists capable of reshaping the news industry. News21 fellows produce in-depth news coverage on critical issues facing the nation, using innovative digital methods to distribute the news on multiple platforms.

This is the first year that News21, which launched in 2006 with summer incubators at four schools, is open to students from any accredited U.S. journalism school. The new program model is made possible by recent grants from national foundations that will fund additional fellowships.

A two-year grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation will provide funding for six students each year from the Cronkite School and the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication to participate in News21. A three-year grant from the Hearst Foundations will fund up to four fellows each summer.

Past News21 national projects have focused on food safety and transportation safety. News21 partners with The Washington Post, MSNBC.com and the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity, all of which have published large portions of the students’ work.

This year’s program includes a semester-long seminar on voting rights led by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism. Using teleconference technology, more than two dozen students across the country are participating in the seminar this spring, hearing from numerous election experts, officials and advocates and conducting research in preparation for the summer reporting project.

Students from the seminar then go onto paid summer fellowships, during which they travel across the country to report stories and produce content for publication or broadcast across a number of platforms.

Fellows will work out of the Cronkite School’s newsroom under the direction of News21 Executive Editor Bill Marimow, former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Baltimore Sun and former vice president of news at NPR. Marimow will be assisted by University of Arkansas Associate Professor Gerald Jordan, a veteran journalist who has worked for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Kansas City Star and The Boston Globe.

"This is the kind of experience that will prepare students to work in any news organization, combining the best in traditional tools of the journalistic trade with the digital skills needed in today's newsrooms," Marimow said.

Downie called News21 an extraordinary opportunity for outstanding student journalists to produce professional-quality, in-depth multimedia journalism on a timely subject of national importance.

“The journalism the students produce during the summer under professional editorial direction in the Cronkite School newsroom will both benefit our print, broadcast and digital partners and give the students invaluable experience for future employment," he said.

2012 News21 Schools
• Arizona State University
• Elon University
• University of Florida
• Harvard University
• University of Maryland
• University of Missouri
• University of Nebraska
• University of North Carolina
• University of Oklahoma
• University of Oregon
• Syracuse University
• University of Texas–Austin

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 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 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.