Columbia, Mo. (Aug. 30, 2005) — On Sept. 1, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute will come one step closer to turning these visions into realities with its groundbreaking ceremony. The Reynolds Journalism Institute is a new center that will be a nucleus of collaborative innovation, research and demonstration of new technologies and processes that improve journalism. Through citizen participation with researchers and professionals, the Institute aims to define and strengthen journalism’s role in democratic societies. The Institute was made possible by a $31 million gift from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the largest private donation ever to the University of Missouri.
The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 2 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 1, near the Institute’s new home on the northeast corner of Francis Quadrangle on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. Speakers will include Fred W. Smith, chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation; Thomas E. Atkins, president of the University of Missouri Board of Curators; Elson S. Floyd, president of the University of Missouri; Brady J. Deaton, chancellor of the University of Missouri-Columbia; Pam Johnson, executive director of the Reynolds Journalism Institute; and Dean Mills, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. Music will be provided by the MU Faculty Brass Quintet.
The groundbreaking will signify the start of construction of the Institute’s future home, including a new building and the renovation of Walter Williams Hall and the Sociology Building on the MU campus. When finished in 2007, the Reynolds Institute will house a Journalism Futures Laboratory, where teams of students, faculty and visiting professionals will prototype media innovations, and a Technology Demonstration Center, where the collaborative teams will experiment with emerging technologies in journalism and advertising.
“We are building more than a new structure. We are laying a foundation for the journalism of the future.” Johnson said.
“It’s troubling today to witness the lack of trust in journalism and the lack of vitality in the media business. The Reynolds Institute hopes to energize industry and public partnerships that can work with our research and technology resources to find solutions and enable innovation,” she added.
A distinct component of the Reynolds Institute is its focus on public participation. With a mission to bring together citizens, journalists and scholars in programs aimed at improving the practice and understanding of journalism in democratic societies, the Institute will encourage public participation in its research, forums, seminars and workshops.
Johnson recently announced three members of the Institute’s executive staff, including Roger Gafke, Director of Program Development; Esther Thorson, Director of Research, and Roger Fidler, Director of Technology Initiatives. Together, they will lead the effort to identify, research and experiment with new approaches to journalism. Projects will continue within the Missouri School of Journalism facilities until the Reynolds Institute opens in the summer of 2007.
The Reynolds Journalism Institute will draw upon the expertise of the Missouri School of Journalism’s faculty, staff and numerous research resources to test ideas in the School’s real media outlets that may later be adopted by the industry.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it was founded in 1954 by alumnus Donald W. Reynolds, BJ ’27.