Columbia, Mo. (Oct. 31, 2005) — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded a $2.28 million grant to the Committee of Concerned Journalists and the Missouri School of Journalism. The three-year grant will support the CCJ’s Traveling Curriculum and constitutes the Committee’s first step to joining the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. The Reynolds Journalism Institute is a new center at the School 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. Pam Johnson serves as executive director.
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The CCJ is an international consortium of journalists worried about the future of the profession. The group, based in Washington, D.C., believes that journalists from all media, geography, rank and generation must be clear about what sets their work apart from other endeavors. From its inception, the CCJ has worked to clarify its mission by engaging in an ongoing, substantial conversation with journalists. This included a nationwide series of 21 forums and, since 2001, the Traveling Curriculum.
The Traveling Curriculum is a training program designed to engage journalists in a critical discussion about what it is they do and why they do it. Since its launch in February 2001, the program has trained nearly 6,800 journalists in print, broadcast and online organizations. In total, 260 sessions have been held in nearly 80 newsrooms and with 26 organizations and educational institutions.
The Curriculum takes an innovative approach to journalism training. First, CCJ trainers travel to newsrooms to ensure that large numbers of journalists from the same organization can train together. Next, the Curriculum is built from a series of interchangeable modules so that sessions can be tailored to the needs of individual newsrooms. The Curriculum’s training menu consists of 12 options including: “Covering Politics,” “Accuracy and Verification in the Age of 24-Hour News,” “Bias and Accuracy” and “Journalism in a Time of National Crisis.” Finally, the training is offered at a minimum cost to ensure availability to newsrooms of all sizes.
The Knight Foundation grant will offer the CCJ the opportunity to continue to update and expand its training activities. A key feature of the Curriculum has been its ability to adapt to changes in the profession, as well as individual needs of newsrooms. The CCJ is pleased that, in addition to the Knight Foundation grant, the Curriculum program will be strengthened by its new relationship with the prestigious Missouri School of Journalism. The School’s tradition of practical hands-on training – the famous “Missouri Method” – along with its nationally recognized research capabilities will provide the CCJ access to an unparalleled body of knowledge about the media industry.
Starting in July 2006, the CCJ’s administrative offices will be located in Missouri’s Washington, D.C. offices. At that time, the CCJ will appoint an Executive Director who also will occupy the Goldenson Chair in Community Broadcasting. Missouri’s Washington bureau will also serve as home to the Traveling Curriculum’s senior staff while a training coordinator will be located in the future Reynolds Institute. The grant also will provide research opportunities to graduate students at the Missouri School of Journalism.