Journalism Education Reform Growing

Independent evaluation of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative shows impact on students, classroom and industry

A pioneering initiative that helped leading journalism schools reinvent themselves for the digital age will be extended to all journalism and mass communications programs in the United States, thanks to $3.9 million in new support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  The announcement is being made at a gathering of deans of leading journalism schools convened by the two foundations at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center.

The expansion comes after an independent evaluation found the initiative has already helped transform curriculums and get more students hired at a critical juncture in the industry’s history.

“The initiative has developed a new cohort of well-educated journalists who are analytical thinkers and adept communicators, as at home in the virtual universe as they are in the day-to-day world of what has become a news cycle that knows no global borders and never sleeps,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation.  “Yet of even greater importance, this investment has fortified journalism’s role as a pillar of democracy.”

“The Carnegie Knight schools are very different places than they were just six years ago,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation. “Today they have new classes, new teachers and new approaches that combine digital innovation with expertise-based journalism. And news industry leaders are recognizing that journalism education has a role to play in the future of news.”

A 2005 pro bono McKinsey & Company study at the start of the now nearly $20 million Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education found that news leaders were unenthusiastic about the role of journalism education, suggesting that journalism schools need to do “a better job of imparting values, building critical thinking and analytical skills and developing specialized expertise.”  Six years later, a new, independent evaluation of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative by a veteran investigative journalist finds that most news industry leaders surveyed think journalism education in the United States has improved and is making important contributions.

The Carnegie-Knight Initiative funded curriculum reform favoring increasing topic-based knowledge for journalists, the experimental News21 digital investigative reporting project, and a deans leadership group aimed at making public statements about the future of journalism. It operated at 11 leading journalism and communication schools – University of California at Berkeley, Arizona State University, University of Southern California, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Northwestern University, University of Missouri, University of Texas at Austin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Syracuse University, University of Maryland and Columbia University – as well as the Shorenstein Center at Harvard.

In the classrooms, the initiative helped overhaul curriculums so that students developed both multimedia skills and a deeper topic knowledge in areas they might cover.  In the newsroom, News21’s most recent summer investigation, “Breakdown: Traveling Dangerously in America,” was published in the Washington Post and on, generating nearly 5.2 million page views in 18 days.

The support announced today brings the total initiative to $19.7 million.  The new funding will:

* Open the national News21 project to all journalism schools nationwide. It will be administered by Arizona State University; ($2.1 million from Knight; $220,000 from Carnegie.)

* Promote curriculum changes nationwide that will result in a set of ideas about the future of graduate journalism education, led by Columbia and Harvard Universities. (For Columbia, $350,000 from Carnegie, $50,000 Knight; For Harvard, $570,000 from Carnegie and $50,000 from Knight.)

* Launch News21 spin-off projects at five universities – UC Berkeley, University of Southern California, Northwestern, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Columbia – and provide scholarship money so that their studies can join the national project ($575,000 from Knight).

Schools wanting to partner in the national News21 program should contact Arizona State University. Details are available at


More about expertise-based journalism:

More about the Carnegie-Knight Initiative:

More about News21:

Independent evaluation of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative: