Hampton University to pilot Center for Digital Media Innovation to prepare journalism students for today’s job market with $245,000 from Knight Foundation

Press Release

May 22, 2014


New project focuses on increasing diversity in newsrooms

Related Link

"Innovation pilot at Hampton University to prepare new journalists" by Brett A. Pulley on Knight Blog 

HAMPTON, VA. — May 22, 2014 — The Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications will launch a Center for Digital Media Innovation to introduce students to new journalism techniques with $245,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The project is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to increase diversity in journalism by providing students at historically black colleges and universities, such as Hampton University, with the digital training necessary to compete in today’s newsrooms.  The number of African-American reporters has dropped from 1,581 in 2000 to 931 in 2012, according to the American Society of News Editors’ annual newsroom census.

The Center for Innovation in Digital Media will allow Hampton University students to learn and explore new ways of gathering and distributing media content. Students will undertake digital media research projects, and produce business plans and media tools including apps; they will also attend cross-disciplinary classes. Additionally, the university will form partnerships with media corporations and place students in digital media jobs.  The program will be open to an estimated 15 to 20 students each semester of the 2-year pilot period.

“This project tackles two major challenges facing journalism today— the increasing demand for reporters with new media skills and a gap in newsroom diversity,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism and media innovation. “Delivering news that is representative of many distinct voices and keeping up with the pace of media innovation are both essential to meeting community information needs.”

“The news and information industry is hungry for innovations and ideas that leverage the power of digital technology,” said Brett Pulley, dean of the Scripps Howard School. “We are establishing a program that will enable our students to be included among the great young minds now focused on creating new media platforms and pioneering the future of our industry.”

A two-year pilot of the Center for Digital Media will launch this fall semester.

About the HU Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications

"Give light and the people will find their own way.” This is the motto of the Scripps Howard Foundation, and it has been the guiding inspiration of Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications since its inception in 2002.  At that time, the Foundation provided more than $10 million to build new facilities and turn Hampton’s former department of Mass Media Arts, which started in 1967, into a separate school within the university. The school prepares students for careers in media and provides a special environment that teaches the core principles of journalism and communications, while producing ethical and competitive leaders who pursue excellence in their field.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.KnightFoundation.org.


Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]

Gianina Thompson, Senior Public Relations Specialist, Hampton University, 757-727-5754, [email protected]