Columbia Journalism School and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Join Forces
New Grant Supports Innovation to Improve Coverage of Race and Ethnicity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Robert Hornsby, 212-854-9752 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, February 15, 2006 – The Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in the City of New York has been awarded a grant of $194,000 by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, to train journalists throughout the country to produce better reporting on race and ethnicity. The grant helps fund the creation of The Authentic Voice: the Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity, a groundbreaking multimedia project, which will teach students, as well as working journalists, the crucial skills and sensibilities needed to develop more accurate and nuanced reporting about race. This teaching tool, a first of its kind, includes a textbook, DVD, website and teacher’s guide and is expected to be available in May 2006.
The Authentic Voice addresses the fundamental truth that too often, there have been failures in accuracy and inclusion in reporting on people and communities of color by the mainstream, predominantly white press. However, journalists of any racial or ethnic background can hold inaccurate assumptions about people who are different from them. Such assumptions, when unchecked, can lead to distorted and biased reporting and can engender stereotypes and prejudice in society. The aim of the The Authentic Voice, therefore, is to assist all reporters when covering people different from themselves.
Setting a Higher Standard
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant recognizes our commitment, while at the same time it illustrates the commitment of the Kellogg Foundation, to challenging prejudice -- whether conscious or unconscious,” said Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Journalism School. “Our goal at the Journalism School is to set a new, higher standard for education regarding the coverage of race and ethnicity. We endeavor to be leaders in the field.”
Media coverage of race and ethnicity is especially sensitive because news reports can sometimes sway public opinion. For example, the excessive use of images showing black women when discussing welfare and young black men when discussing crime leads to inaccurate reporting and harm to communities as well. There is a pressing need for journalists to examine the choices they make about race and ethnicity and to strive for stories with greater depth and accuracy. The Authentic Voice is about journalism with integrity.
Developing an Innovative Approach
The Authentic Voice provides a unique way to reframe the issues of race and ethnicity, introduce a new vocabulary, change the conversation and generally elevate the quality of journalism in this crucial area. One of the project’s most important features is teaching through examples of excellence. The textbook and DVD contain a series of case studies based on fifteen news stories that have already been published or broadcast—seven television and eight newspaper stories. Each story has won the journalism school’s "Let's Do It Better!” Workshop Award, a Ford Foundation program that recognizes excellence in reporting on race and ethnicity throughout the news industry.
The DVD will include the seven television stories, as well as 14 interviews with both the print and television journalists whose work is included in the project. Leading journalists such as Ted Koppel, former anchor of Nightline, Bob Simon of 60 Minutes and Anne Hull, National Writer for The Washington Post sat down for interviews. They discuss the evolution of their stories, the challenges, their mistakes, ethical issues and all of the work that goes into quality reporting of any kind, with particular focus on the issues that can arise when a story involves race and/or ethnicity.
Uniquely Qualified Co-Editors
Arlene Notoro Morgan, associate dean for prizes and programs at Columbia’s Journalism School, has teamed up with co-editors Alice Irene Pifer and Keith Woods to produce The Authentic Voice. Morgan has found that, “From our own contact with journalism educators and editors, we know there is a void when it comes to teaching materials regarding journalism, race and ethnicity. Our mission is to fill that void in the classroom and in the newsroom.”
For the past five years, Morgan has led the “Let’s Do It Better! Workshop on Journalism, Race and Ethnicity. Prior to Columbia, she was at The Philadelphia Inquirer for 31 years, many of those years as an Assistant Managing Editor for Hiring and Staff Development. In that job, she led the newspaper’s diversity initiative and did training for Knight-Ridder newspapers, winning the first Knight-Ridder Excellence Award for Diversity in 1995. She holds certificates in several training programs, including the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Kochman Communications and Zenger-Miller.
Alice Irene Pifer is director of professional education and an adjunct professor at Columbia’s Journalism School. Before joining the school, she was a producer at ABC News for 20 years, where she reported regularly on race. Her 2000 story “The Family Secret”—which is included in The Authentic Voice—received four awards, including the 2001 National Association of Black Journalists First Place Award. Pifer has been on the advisory board of the “Let’s Do It Better!” program since 2002. She has been a visiting faculty member at the Poynter Institute for its “Writing about Race” seminar and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 1995-96.
Keith Woods is dean of faculty at the Poynter Institute. In addition to his responsibilities as dean, Woods runs workshops at Poynter on a variety of topics of journalistic importance including covering race relations, writing and ethics. For eight years, he led Poynter’s diversity programs and created a seminar to train professors how to teach diversity across the curriculum. While City Editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, where he worked for 16 years, he led the newspaper’s National Headliner Award-winning series “Together-Apart/The Myth of Race.”
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 “to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations.” Its programming activities center around the common vision of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts responsibility for self, family, community, and societal well-being; and has the capacity to be productive, and to help create nurturing families, responsive institutions, and healthy communities.
To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation targets its grants toward specific areas. These include: health; food systems and rural development; youth and education; and philanthropy and volunteerism. Within these areas, attention is given to exploring learning opportunities in leadership; information and communication technology; capitalizing on diversity; and social and economic community development. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
About the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
For almost a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists in a program that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912, the school offers Master of Science, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
About Columbia University
Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and today is one of the world’s leading academic and research institutions. For more information about Columbia University, visit www.columbia.edu.