John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University to further advance innovation through new program initiatives

Knight Foundation invests $1.8 million to help expand fellowship program’s impact

STANFORD, CALIF.—Oct. 7, 2014—The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University will launch a series of initiatives to strengthen the fellowship curriculum and help spread the program’s impact into newsrooms and beyond. The new initiatives are supported by $1.8 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Knight Fellowships each year brings 20 journalists and journalism entrepreneurs to Stanford for 10 months. During that time they focus on journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership as they work to meet a specific journalism challenge that each has identified. The program’s goal is to develop leaders with transformative ideas and innovative approaches they can use as they move forward in their journalism careers.

The three-year funding will support these new initiatives:

  •  Add a new staff position: this person will help increase the impact of fellows’ work after their year at Stanford. The coordinator will work with current and past fellows to help them build on the innovative ideas they examined during their fellowship year, and explore ways that they can create organizational change within newsrooms and other workplaces.
  •  Hold a yearly gathering of up to 20 former fellows: The networking and mentoring event will be geared toward fellows who are at a pivot point in their post-fellowship journalism careers. They will meet at Stanford for an intensive workshop aimed at helping them develop their next venture, as well as examining how to drive change in their existing organizations.
  •  Establish a workshop at Stanford on transformative newsroom leadership: The workshop will be open to a small group of top editors and publishers to learn alongside fellows, and introduce them to new innovations and thinking.
  •  Develop an evolving, living technology curriculum for journalists: Designed to address the sorts of questions journalists face when envisioning an innovative project, the curriculum will include content that can be shared widely with the field.

A portion of the funding will also go toward increasing the Knight endowment by $750,000, to be matched by $750,000 from the fellowship program.

In 2009, the fellowship program shifted its focus to emphasize journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, with the help of strategic planning support from Knight Foundation. As a result, fellows are now required to work on a journalism challenge during their year at Stanford and learn the skills to be innovative, entrepreneurial leaders.

“We want our fellows to be effective innovators for years to come, and to embed what they have learned in news outlets old and new,” said Jim Bettinger, Knight fellowships director. “This support from Knight Foundation will enable us to take strong steps towards this goal. Since 2009, the program has focused strongly on innovating for journalism’s future. We are now also thinking about how we can help journalism’s present.”

“Ensuring that fellowship training translates into real-world results is important to advancing the field of journalism and making sure that good ideas spread,” said Marie Gilot, Knight Foundation journalism program officer. “These new initiatives will allow the program to evolve and grow in response to the pace of innovation.”

Recent Knight fellows have launched journalism startups, created cross-border investigative reporting partnerships, and crafted tools to enhance reporting on immigrant communities and communities in crisis, to cite a few examples. Others are leading innovation in established news organizations or in journalism endeavors of their own, such as training other journalists in innovative thinking methodologies, data visualization, coding and other new media skills. Knight Foundation permanently endowed the fellowships in 1984.

Support for the fellowships is one part of Knight's efforts to encourage change in journalism education and advance excellence in journalism. Knight has made various other investments in this area including support to a Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education and recent grants to Florida International University, Hampton University, Northeastern University and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

For more information on the fellowships, visit http://knight.stanford.edu.

About the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford

Knight Journalism Fellowships foster journalistic innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Our fellows come from all over the world and from all types of journalism, including daily newspapers, radio and television, non-profit news startups, blogs and ethnic media. They take their cues from our partners and allies in Silicon Valley, as they prototype, refine and retest their ideas. Journalism fellowships at Stanford began in 1966; a major gift from the Knight Foundation in 1984 put the program on a solid financial foundation. http://knight.stanford.edu.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged www.knightfoundation.org.

CONTACTS:

Robin Evans, Outreach & Marketing Manager, John S. Knight Fellowships, revans1@stanford.edu, 650-721-5955

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, media@knightfoundation.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.