Knight Foundation


New newsroom training report shows gaps, some progress

For many journalists, this is the best of times for training. For others, it’s a missed opportunity, according to a new Poynter report.

The results of a new report “Constant Training: New Normal or Missed Opportunity?” were released today by The Poynter Institute and the Knight Foundation. Two-thirds of journalists report that they have received training the past 12 months. In addition, more than half, 56 percent, of those journalists were mostly satisfied or very satisfied with the training.

That’s a significant improvement from the 1993 “No Train, No Gain” report, published by the Freedom Forum, which revealed that only 14 percent of the journalists surveyed received regular weekly or monthly training at their newspapers. A follow-up report, “Newsroom Training: Where’s the Investment?” in 2002 painted a similar picture, with more than two-thirds of the journalists surveyed saying they “receive no regular skills training.”

However, Poynter’s 2014 survey shows that training varies wildly between newsrooms, with several reporting less than half of staff members have received training in the past year.  The lowest response was a newsroom where only 17 percent of staff members reported receiving training.

The results are from a survey of staff members from 31 newsrooms around the country conducted by The Poynter Institute on behalf of the Knight Foundation. The newsrooms ranged in size from 20 to 150 staff members. More than 1,650 staff members were possible participants for the survey, which achieved a 72.5 percent response rate or 1,188 responses. The survey was conducted online in June–July 2014.

Given the whirlwind of disruptions at news organizations during the past two decades, it’s good news that more journalists are getting journalism training than ever before, and they have an appetite for even more. Almost nine in 10 journalists [88 percent] said they could absorb more training, especially training that’s digitally-focused.

However, there are some disturbing results from the survey, with a third of the journalists in the survey [34 percent] saying that they received no training in the past 12 months. Considering the abundance of free or low-cost training available, the numbers of journalists not getting training seem strikingly high.

Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation takes an even harsher view of the situation in a blog post about the study:

But today’s study says we’re stuck at roughly the same average even as change is accelerating. What’s more, a national survey reports an overall average. In some newsrooms, nearly everyone gets some training; in others, the number can go as low as 17 percent. How can a number get that low when programs such as News University and NewsTrain have wiped out obstacles such as money and time?

Some will say they are trapped under bosses who don’t think well-trained people are faster and better. Others will say their company’s only focus is its cash-cow strategy, milking the business to death, and good journalism has no place there.

Today’s rapidly changing media ecosystem demands that journalists continually refresh their skills. In 1993, the Internet as a means to deliver news and information was a glimmer in a digital futurist’s eye. Today, digital-first isn’t just a slogan; it’s what is needed to get journalism to the public.

From Poynter-Knight Newsroom Training Report 2014

Barriers to Training. From Poynter-Knight Newsroom Training Report, 2014

The survey participants, when asked what kind of training they wanted, put digital topics at the top of their lists. Seven of the top 10 training topics had a digital focus, with social media, the use of digital tools and video skills as the top three areas where journalists thought that training could help them in their profession during the next 12 months. Other top topics were data journalism, audience development, writing skills, managing change, mobile devices, Web analytics and Web design.

Another indication of the hunger for training could be seen when we looked at what training participants wanted compared with which training they had in the previous 12 months. For example, 59 percent of the journalists who took digital tools training wanted more training on that topic. There were similar high levels of hunger among those who took training in video skills, Web analytics or mobile devices.

This raises the point that everyone, especially journalists, lives in a world of constant learning. Each new technology creates new opportunities and new challenges. Which create new openings for training. To be successful in the digital world, a journalist needs to embrace the idea of “constant training” to meet the changing demands of the workplace.

Other results from the “Constant Training” report survey are more troubling.

Actually doing the training presents a significant problem. Lack of time was cited by 62 percent of the participants as the number-one factor that prevented them from getting the training they needed or wanted. That’s twice as many responses as lack of funds, the second-place factor, which was selected by 34 percent.

Print-first vs. Digital-first. From Poynter-Knight Newsroom Training Report, 2014

Print-first vs. Digital-first. From Poynter-Knight Newsroom Training Report, 2014

The survey also provides an unsettling insight into the focus of the newsrooms surveyed. The journalists surveyed still see their newsrooms as print-centric or straddling the fence. Only one in 10 said that their newsrooms are thoroughly “digital-first.”

In addition, newsrooms surveyed are dominated by older workers — the median age of the survey participants is 48 years old — raising questions about how managers make sure that they are effectively engaging younger staff members and providing digitally-focused and relevant training to all staffers, regardless of age or digital background.

The report and data can be downloaded from here: Read more


Jennifer Preston joins Knight Foundation

Jennifer Preston, the New York Times’ first social media editor, will become vice president for journalism at the Knight Foundation. Preston also helped launch the Times’ “Watching” feature, which Justin Ellis wrote about for Nieman recently.

Other Knight moves accompany the Preston hire and are part of a “reorganization designed to boost Knight Foundation’s ability to help accelerate digital innovation at news organizations and journalism schools, while accelerating the pace of experimentation that drives that innovation,” a release, below, says.

MIAMI – Oct. 6, 2014 – Jennifer Preston, an award-winning New York Times journalist and digital innovator, will join the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as vice president for journalism beginning Oct. 20, 2014.

The move completes a reorganization designed to boost Knight Foundation’s ability to help accelerate digital innovation at news organizations and journalism schools, while accelerating the pace of experimentation that drives that innovation. Recently, John Bracken was promoted to vice president/media innovation with a mandate to increase the speed of media innovation funding.

Preston brings more than 30 years of newsroom and business-side experience to the position, including senior editorial and management roles at The Times. Since 2009, when she was named the newsroom’s first social media editor, she has helped pioneer the use of social media for reporting, storytelling, engagement and real-time publishing. Most recently, she helped launch a homepage news curation feature for called Watching. She has taught digital media at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

“Jennifer is the ideal person to help newsrooms embrace innovation because she believes in the change and has helped make it happen,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “She understands the realities but she also has a vision of what’s possible and how to get there. She’ll lead Knight’s efforts to help newspaper, TV, radio and Internet newsrooms bring media innovation into their mainstream.”

Commenting on Knight’s role as a principal funder of journalism training in the United States, Ibargüen added, “Jennifer is a collaborative, natural-born teacher who will help journalism schools train a new generation of digital natives to report the news. In the process, they will help evolve the skills necessary to report the news and engage the public. We’re still in a time of creative disruption but Jennifer is unflappable.”

“I am thrilled about joining Knight Foundation,” Preston said. “It is an extraordinary opportunity to help drive digital innovation at news organizations, big and small, startups and traditional brands. I am also excited about joining Knight’s global community of digital journalism innovators whose ideas have been changing how we practice and produce quality journalism for years.”

Preston’s team at Knight Foundation includes Director/Journalism Shazna Nessa, a former Associated Press deputy managing editor and a recent John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, and Program Officer/Journalism Marie Gilot.

Bracken’s team includes Director/Media Innovation Chris Barr, who manages the Knight Prototype Fund, which has become an important part of Knight strategy as it allows for the rapid testing and iteration of ideas, Program Associate Lucas Hernandez, and Executive Assistant Hallie Atkins.

The organizational shifts come as Michael Maness steps down as vice president/journalism and media innovation after more than three years at Knight to become the first innovator-in-residence for the Digital Initiative at the Harvard Business School. He will continue to consult for Knight Foundation.

Read more

Knight Fellowship Program to create workshop for top editors and publishers

The Knight Foundation Tuesday announced a $1.8 million investment in the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships Program at Stanford University for a series of new initiatives, including the establishment of a workshop on transformative news leadership.

The program will use the money to “strengthen the fellowship curriculum and help spread the program’s impact into newsrooms and beyond,” according to a release from the Knight Foundation (full release below).

The initiatives include:

  • Hiring a coordinator to help fellows “build on the innovative ideas they examined during their fellowship year.”
  • Holding an annual “networking and mentoring event” for 20 former fellows.
  • Starting a workshop where “top editors and publishers” can collaborate and learn with fellows.
  • Create a technology curriculum for journalists.

Here’s the release:

STANFORD, CALIF.—Oct. 7, 2014—The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University will launch a series of initiatives to strengthen the fellowship curriculum and help spread the program’s impact into newsrooms and beyond. The new initiatives are supported by $1.8 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Knight Fellowships each year brings 20 journalists and journalism entrepreneurs to Stanford for 10 months. During that time they focus on journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership as they work to meet a specific journalism challenge that each has identified. The program’s goal is to develop leaders with transformative ideas and innovative approaches they can use as they move forward in their journalism careers.

The three-year funding will support these new initiatives:

  • Add a new staff position: this person will help increase the impact of fellows’ work after their year at Stanford. The coordinator will work with current and past fellows to help them build on the innovative ideas they examined during their fellowship year, and explore ways that they can create organizational change within newsrooms and other workplaces.
  • Hold a yearly gathering of up to 20 former fellows: The networking and mentoring event will be geared toward fellows who are at a pivot point in their post-fellowship journalism careers. They will meet at Stanford for an intensive workshop aimed at helping them develop their next venture, as well as examining how to drive change in their existing organizations.
  • Establish a workshop at Stanford on transformative newsroom leadership: The workshop will be open to a small group of top editors and publishers to learn alongside fellows, and introduce them to new innovations and thinking.
  • Develop an evolving, living technology curriculum for journalists: Designed to address the sorts of questions journalists face when envisioning an innovative project, the curriculum will include content that can be shared widely with the field.

A portion of the funding will also go toward increasing the Knight endowment by $750,000, to be matched by $750,000 from the fellowship program.

In 2009, the fellowship program shifted its focus to emphasize journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, with the help of strategic planning support from Knight Foundation. As a result, fellows are now required to work on a journalism challenge during their year at Stanford and learn the skills to be innovative, entrepreneurial leaders.

“We want our fellows to be effective innovators for years to come, and to embed what they have learned in news outlets old and new,” said Jim Bettinger, Knight fellowships director. “This support from Knight Foundation will enable us to take strong steps towards this goal. Since 2009, the program has focused strongly on innovating for journalism’s future. We are now also thinking about how we can help journalism’s present.”

“Ensuring that fellowship training translates into real-world results is important to advancing the field of journalism and making sure that good ideas spread,” said Marie Gilot, Knight Foundation journalism program officer. “These new initiatives will allow the program to evolve and grow in response to the pace of innovation.”

Recent Knight fellows have launched journalism startups, created cross-border investigative reporting partnerships, and crafted tools to enhance reporting on immigrant communities and communities in crisis, to cite a few examples. Others are leading innovation in established news organizations or in journalism endeavors of their own, such as training other journalists in innovative thinking methodologies, data visualization, coding and other new media skills. Knight Foundation permanently endowed the fellowships in 1984.

Support for the fellowships is one part of Knight’s efforts to encourage change in journalism education and advance excellence in journalism. Knight has made various other investments in this area including support to a Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education and recent grants to Florida International University, Hampton University, Northeastern University and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly referred to the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships Program at Stanford University as being a subsidiary of the Knight Foundation. Although originally endowed by the Knight Foundation, the fellowship program operates independently. Read more


Career Beat: Tom Knudson joins Center for Investigative Reporting

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Tom Knudson is now a senior reporter at The Center for Investigative Reporting. Previously he was a staff writer at The Sacramento Bee. (Center for Investigative Reporting)
  • Mark Smith will be mobile web editor for The Washington Post. Previously, he was senior manager of social media marketing at USA Today. (Washington Post)
  • Brian Gross will be deputy design director at The Washington Post. Currently, he’s lead senior designer there. Emmet Smith will be lead senior designer at The Washington Post. Previously, he was a senior designer there. (Washington Post)
  • Julia Cheiffetz is now executive editor at Dey Street Books. Previously, she was editorial director at Amazon. (@rachelsklar)
  • Stephen Collinson is now a senior enterprise reporter for CNN’s digital politics. Previously, he was a White House correspondent for Agence France-Presse. (Politico)
  • Matt Vella is now assistant managing editor at Time magazine. Previously, he was a senior editor at Fortune. Sam Jacobs is an assistant managing editor for Time magazine. Previously, he was a senior editor at Time. Kelly Conniff is now senior editor for special projects at Time magazine. Previously, she was a social media editor at Time. Mia Tramz is now multimedia editor at Time magazine. Previously, she was associate photo editor at Time Magazine. (Fishbowl NY)

Job of the day: The Idaho Statesman is looking for a breaking news reporter. Get your résumés in!

Send Ben your job moves:

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Tom Knudson was a Knight Fellow at Stanford University. In fact, he was the recipient of the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Reporting, which is sponsored by Knight. Read more


Knight Foundation announces new journalism division

Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation will split its journalism and media innovation division into two separate teams, adding a vice president for journalism, the nonprofit announced Wednesday.

Under the new structure, the media innovation division will administer programs such as the Knight News Challenge and the Knight Prototype Fund, John Bracken, vice president of the new media innovation division, said in a phone interview. The journalism division will focus on leading transformational change in newsrooms. The two divisions will divvy up the current combined grantmaking budget, though the specific breakdown hasn’t been determined yet. This budget varies from year to year depending on a variety of factors including the performance of the stock market.

Knight announced a slew of promotions in concert with the reorganization. Bracken was formerly director of media innovation. Former media innovation associate Chris Barr is now director of media and innovation. Former Associated Press deputy managing editor Shazna Nessa joins the foundation as director of journalism. And Marie Gilot, formerly a journalism program associate, is now a program officer for journalism.

The reorganization will allow Knight to focus deeply and separately on areas of media innovation and journalism, Bracken said.

“The reorganization really allows us to press the pedal to the metal with the media innovation work that we’re doing as well as the work we do with newsrooms,” he said.

The foundation plans to announce its pick for vice president of the journalism division in the coming months. Read more


Knight Foundation announces winners of prototype grants

Knight Foundation

A button that allows readers to “do public good,” a service that alerts readers to incorrect articles that have been shared on social media and a database that allows Massachusetts journalists to monitor court cases are among the projects that were awarded Prototype Fund grants, the Knight Foundation announced today. Read more

1 Comment

Knight gives $245,000 to Hampton University to foster newsroom diversity

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Thursday that it’s giving $245,000 to The Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. The money will start a Center for Digital Media Innovation at the Hampton, Virginia school and help introduce students at the historically black college to journalism, according to the press release.

“For Knight, support of Hampton University’s new Center for Digital Media Innovation is a way to promote newsroom diversity, which is important both for providing people with a full picture of news in their community and engaging people from a variety of backgrounds,” Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation, told Poynter in an email.

According to the press release, the new center will help students at Hampton University “explore new ways of gathering and distributing media content.” Read more


John Temple: Journalists shouldn’t ‘measure our success in wealth’

John S. Knight Fellowships

In a video interview published Tuesday, John Temple spoke with Knight Fellowships Director Jim Bettinger at a recent event at Stanford University. Temple, who spent a year as managing editor of The Washington Post and was the founding editor of Honolulu Civil Beat, is currently a senior fellow at Stanford. Bettinger asked what journalists should learn, and what they should not learn, from Silicon Valley. Here’s some of what Temple said, with the full video below.

Should learn

“…A great sense of openness and optimism and the sense of possibility and a willingness to try and to learn by trying and by doing and a willingness to experiment.”

Should not learn

“Technology does not solve all problems.” Read more

1 Comment

Knight’s Prototype Fund fuels 17 projects

Knight Foundation

On Tuesday, the Knight Foundation announced the funding of 17 projects through Prototype Fund grants, Chris Barr writes.

The Prototype Fund is designed to give people with great concepts for media and information projects grants of $35,000 and six months to take their idea all the way to demo with a class of others facing a similar challenge. What can you learn in six months? Quite a bit.

Projects in this round include Capitol Hound, “Offering the public a searchable database of the transcripts of North Carolina legislative sessions, including an audio archive and alert system for General Assembly sessions and committee meetings”; Minezy, “Creating a tool to help journalists more easily find information in email archives received through Freedom of Information Act requests by analyzing data and highlighting important social relationships, dates and topics”; and Tipsy, “Making it easier for content providers to generate revenue by developing a new way to fund news sites through micropayments from readers.”

For more information on each of the 17 projects, check out Knight’s announcement. Read more


ONA names winners of j-school Challenge Fund grants

Gun control, public housing conditions, rising sea levels and air quality are among the topics that 12 university journalism schools plan to tackle with micro-grants provided by the Challenge Fund.

Four foundations that sponsor the fund put out a call last October seeking project proposals from journalism programs that would promote innovation in community news coverage and experimentation in digital technology.

The Online News Association, which administers the grants, announced the winners Friday, along with descriptions of the projects as they might be distilled down to a tweet:

  • Arizona State University: “Public engagement tools can influence coverage and change the conversation – even on an issue as contentious as guns.”
  • CUNY Graduate School of Journalism: “.@cunyjschool & @NYDailyNews crowdsource mold scourge in public housing to bring action/#accountability”
  • Florida International University: “Always live hyperlocal sea level rise news and mobile info. How does SLR impact where you live? #SLRSoFla #crowdhydrology”
  • Georgia Collaborative — Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Morehouse College, and University of Georgia: “New partnership will train students in investigative reporting & data journalism, diversify newsrooms, engage community & #hackcurriculum”
  • San Diego State University: “What’s in the air in San Diego? SDSU students collaborate with local media to find out. Help us collect the data!”
  • San Francisco State University: “#Newspoints guides, organizes and maps your #reporting, interviews and #multimedia. Put your reporting on the map.
  • Texas State University: “Music tells the stories of a community, it’s history, culture, economy and social interaction. Share your story.”
  • University of Illinois: “See how social media intersects with your life every day and in every way even if you don’t see it – whether events, policies, ideas, opinions or decisions.”
  • University of Missouri: “Citizens have their say as experts, deciders & reporters listen.”
  • University of New Mexico: “Strange bedfellows? News & Strat Comm students launch start-up. “We make local news go viral!” #UNM”
  • University of Oklahoma: “Our @ONA grant proposal: conversation on poverty in Oklahoma City with mobile video, GIS #hackcurriculum”
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison: “Who watches Wisconsin water? @WisWatch & @UWMadison students reporting on quality & supply. Join us at & @waterwatchwi”

Honorable mentions went to: American University, Columbia College, DePaul University, El Paso Community College, Emerson College, Howard University, Mercer University, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Kansas, University of Minnesota, USC-Annenberg, Virginia Commonwealth University and West Virginia University.

Each of the winners receive $35,000 grants funded by the Knight Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Democracy Fund and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Read more


Get the latest media news delivered to your inbox.

Select the newsletter(s) you'd like to receive:
Page 1 of 41234