Knight Center Closing Dec. 31

Caption: Presentation at Knight Center for Specialized Journalism seminar on "Climate Change, Its Sweeping Impact"

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 11, 2009) – The Knight Center for Specialized Journalism will cease operations at the end of this month, it was announced today by Dean Kevin Klose of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

“The Center’s achievements in providing in-depth training for journalists to improve their competencies are well-known and highly regarded across the news industry,” Klose said. “The rapid changes in news media technology and economics require new thinking. This move will enable us to focus fully on designing new approaches to the challenges of 21st-century journalism.”

Founded 22 years ago and sustained throughout its existence by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight Center has provided seminars and specialized educational fellowships to more than 2,700 journalists from more than 500 news organizations. It was the first professional center at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Since then, the College has expanded its professional outreach arm to include the American Journalism Review, the Journalism Center on Children & Families, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda. The College is also home to the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and the National Association of Black Journalists, and operates the Maryland-District of Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

“We are in active discussion with the Knight Foundation about future collaborations to provide essential, forward-looking and dynamic multimedia specialized journalism education,” Klose said. “We thank the Knight Foundation for its years of enduring support and intense interest in the work of the Knight Center,” Klose said.

“The Knight Center at Maryland has been served by a uniquely dedicated staff, and they have our collective thanks for their outstanding service to the cause of smart, thoughtful journalism,” Klose said. “I want to pay special tribute to Peggy DeBona, acting director of the Center, who was there for two decades and whose devotion to the Center, its staff and its work has never flagged.”

The Center was founded in 1987, when Reese Cleghorn was dean of the college, and its first director was Howard Bray, a former reporter and former president of the Washington-based Fund for Investigative Journalism, who served until 1999. Bray was succeeded by former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and editor, Carol Horner. Horner served as director until her death in 2008, when DeBona was named acting director. The Center’s advisory board is chaired by Anders Gyllenhaal, executive editor of the Miami Herald.

The Knight Foundation has been a major funder of the College, including a $5 million gift in support of the new state-of-the-art journalism education building to be opened next month. The building is named John S. and James L. Knight Hall, in recognition of the Knight Foundation’s gift and the more than $20 million in support the Foundation has given to the University since 1987.

The Knight Foundation supports permanent training programs at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Stanford University and the Poynter Institute as well as programs at the Knight Digital Media Center on the West Coast that train journalists in specialized journalism.

Founded in 1947, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism prepares bachelor’s and master’s students for careers in traditional and emerging news outlets, and its Ph.D. students for teaching and research in journalism and mass communication. Its 500 undergraduate and nearly 60 graduate students learn their craft in theoretical and practical courses that include immersion programs such as Capital News Service, a daily, multimedia news service in Washington, D.C., Annapolis and College Park, Maryland. One of the nation’s most respected journalism programs, the Merrill College is a Carnegie-Knight Initiative News21 school, a collaborative partnership between journalism schools at 12 research universities—often referred to as journalism education’s “digital ivy league.”

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