New digital book from Knight: ‘Every reporter, editor & journalism school teacher needs to read this’

technology / Article

October 16, 2013 by Marika Lynch



Tomorrow at the Online News Association conference in Atlanta, Knight Foundation will launch a new digital book that is both a call for and an example of change in journalism and journalism education.

Written by Knight’s Eric Newton, "Searchlights and Sunglasses" is a digital expedition through the major issues facing the field, with insights for any journalist, educator, student or news consumer interested in ensuring that good journalism survives.

What makes the book unique is its design: With one click, it turns into an educational tool with a learning layer providing more than 1,000 lesson plan ideas and resources to ensure students are ready for digital jobs. It will be available online and via Kindle tomorrow Oct. 17.

To test and help revise the book, we sent it to leading journalists and educators in the field to get their feedback. Here’s what they have to say about “Searchlight and Sunglasses: Field Notes From the Digital Age of Journalism”:


Continue the conversation with #edshift and at

Free Poytner webinar Oct. 28: "Six things educators can do right now to go digital." 

"New digital book on journalism’s future is call for change and teaching tool" by Marika Lynch on KnightBlog

"Journalism textbooks have seen their future and it is digital" on Poynter

"A journalism problem you haven't considered: Education" an Op-Ed by Eric Newton 

"Consortium unveils $1M Challenge Fund to 'hack' journalism education"

"Eric Newton: Journalism education isn't evolving fast enough, and you should help change that" on Nieman Lab

"New from The Knight Foundation: A Free J-School Self-Help Book" on MeidaBistro

"@sdmoeller: How I'm already using 'Searchlights and Sunglasses' in the classroom" on KnightBlog

"What curriculum innovators can learn from 'Searchlights and Sunglasses'" on KnightBlog

"Pencils down everyone. Your digital toolbox is here': Five lessons from 'Searchlight and Sunglasses" on KnightBlog 

“Eric Newton provides a highly critical, sometimes scathing, and wholly on point critique of the state of journalism education. He makes the case that desperately needed transformation in the digital age is coming about even more slowly in journalism schools than it is in the news industry – and in many cases change is not happening at all. But Newton, who over the past decade has been a clarion voice for dramatic J-school reform, rethinking and reinvigoration, doesn’t just chide the academy. He provides a detailed, positive and uplifting blueprint of how to move forward. Some of the ideas are bold, but many others just seem to be so from inside the tradition-bound confines of so many universities.”

“... hiring the best journalists into professional schools to teach, research, experiment and innovate … is a provacative, even radical notion to many in the academy. And Newton correctly notes that even the relatively few schools that have made dramatic changes over the past decade need to do more -- and move faster … ‘Searchlights and Sunglasses’ is a must-read for journalism students, professors, deans and – most important – university presidents as they consider what journalism education, and ultimately journalism itself, needs to be in the digital future.”

-- Christopher Callahan, founding dean, vice provost and professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University

“‘Searchlights and Sunglasses’ perfectly exemplifies how cutting-edge technology can be used to achieve the best pedagogical results. This digital book on the present and future of journalism will do wonders to educate a new generation of reporters and writers … making learning fun and interactive. (It) will resonate immensely with students and teachers alike.”

-- Raul Reis, dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Florida International University

“Eric Newton’s book ‘Searchlights and Sunglasses’ is a must-read for anyone who works in the field of journalism and communications. Newton draws insights from the extensive work Knight Foundation has done in the field of media innovation and provides an invaluable guide to understanding the current state of the field and its tools. He discusses innovations and collaborations that can help us adapt to constant change and make sense out of the massive amount of information at the tip of our fingers. In the digital age, we need to learn to experiment and to expose, to curate and to provide context. “Searchlights and Sunglasses” is the perfect guide to learning how to do that.”

--Jose Zamora, VP, strategic communications, Univision Network News


“Engaging, thought-provoking and whimsical at times, Eric Newton reminds us why truthful, open and ambitious journalism matters -- and why it deserves our committed action and ‘off-the-planet crazy’ ideas in classrooms and newsrooms to help it thrive. The Learning Layer is a treasure trove of innovative examples, useful digital tools and practical classroom activity and discussion ideas. ”

--Sally  Lehrman, Senior Fellow, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University


“The uphill battle for journalism in the digital age is well-known.  What has been missing is a solution.  The voice of clarity about that is embodied in Searchlights and Sunglasses.”

-- John Lumpkin, director, Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University, and former vice president, Associated Press


“‘Searchlights and Sunglasses’ is a fascinating, comprehensive, and at times inspiring look at the changes in and possibilities for the news industry.”  

-- Dori J. Maynard, president, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education


“Eric Newton is a key thinker, doer, and supporter of journalism today. Here is an invaluable collection of his perspective and advice on the state of news and its future. Every reporter, editor, executive, and journalism school teacher and student needs to read this. His challenge to journalists and journalism schools: Don't save the news. Invent it!”

-- Jeff Jarvis, writer, consultant, and associate professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York.


“‘Searchlights and Sunglasses’ is attractive, engaging and accessible -- a provocative platform to raise current issues related to the profession to the academy. It will, I expect, be assigned reading for administrators and top faculty in schools around the country, providing yet another push for change. The ideas are compelling in their breadth and creativity ... overall an immensely optimistic view of what journalism can and should do.”

-- Susan Moeller, professor of media and international affairs & director, International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, University of Maryland


“Eric Newton has been one of the most influential people in shaping journalism's future for more than a decade. This volume tracks his journey, outlines what he has learned and where he thinks we are headed--on everything from document clouds to the future of journalism education. It also traces the ideas of the Knight Foundation, arguably the most important charitable influence in journalism over this turbulent and exciting period of change.”

-- Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute and founder of the Project for Excellence in Journalism


“‘Searchlights and Sunglasses’ is a great digital book that can be helpful for any journalism educator (high school or college) and journalism student alike. … The HTML5 experience of the book is what makes it different from most books. The videos, the graphics, images, the hyperlinks and the learning layers provides a unique experience… . There is a lot of great information and learning lessons embedded in each chapter and section of the book that can be used in a variety of journalism classes -- not just an introductory journalism class, but used as part of lectures or topics when covering the major issues and trends in journalism today, in data-driven journalism and investigative reporting classes, basic newswriting and reporting classes, digital journalism and multimedia journalism classes as well as entrepreneurial journalism classes.”

--Amy Schmitz Weiss, associate professor, San Diego State University


“‘Searchlights and Sunglasses’ provides a comprehensive perspective of the current state of American journalism and what needs to be done for the industry to respond for the future. More importantly, it provides a clear call-to-action and roadmap for those in journalism education, especially at smaller institutions, that have stuck to old routines and not yet embraced the digital revolution.”

-- Adam Maksl, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism, Indiana University Southeast


Tomorrow at the Online News Association Conference in Atlanta, Eric Newton will officially launch “Searchlights and Sunglasses.If you're attending the conference, join us for his lightning talk on the midway at 1 p.m. Oct. 17.

Marika Lynch, a former journalist, is a communications consultant for Knight Foundation.

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