Journalism’s Crisis of Confidence: Second Report from Carnegie-Knight Journalism Initiative


“The job of the journalist, like that of teachers or librarians, is vital to the preservation of American democracy,” says Vartan Gregorian in Journalism’s Crisis of Confidence: A Challenge for the Next Generation,” a new report from Carnegie Corporation of New York, which focuses on the future of journalism as both an ethical profession and a viable business.

The report is the latest development resulting from the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, which aims to help revitalize journalism education as a way of contributing to the skills and enrich the knowledge of tomorrow’s journalists. The initiative was launched in 2002, when Gregorian invited the deans of four leading schools of journalismæ the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University; the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University; the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley; and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, as well as the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University—to begin a dialogue on how to improve journalism education and in turn, elevate the status of a profession that has lately been challenged to do better and do more. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has made the education of journalists a hallmark of its philanthropy for more than half a century, has been the Corporation’s partner in the initiative.

Journalism’s Crisis of Confidence is based on a recent day-long dialogue involving the five founding deans of the initiative, along with several new journalism schools that have been invited to join in the curriculum enrichment aspect of the project (which also involves News 21, an effort to prepare students to report stories in both traditional and cutting-edge media and a platform for deans of journalism school to speak collectively on issues of importance to journalism) as well as some of the nation’s top editors, publishers, news executives and journalists. Their insights about journalism education, media trends, innovation and ethics in journalism, America’s changing news habits, and even new standards for “new” forms of journalism, such as blogging, inform and enliven the report.

Journalism students who comprise the next generation of reporters “want to report on things that matter,” says Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University’s school of journalism. That kind of enthusiasm and the desire to reach for high standards on the part of young journalists contributes to making this an exciting time for journalism, one that holds the promise of renewed vigor for reporting and dedication to the craft.

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Andrew Carnegie created Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $2.2 billion on September 30, 2005. The Corporation awards grants totaling more than $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.