Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

How far should journalism education reform go?

Aug. 7, 2012, 9:17 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton


A new proposed degree structure for journalism education

This week, journalism educators meet in Chicago. I hope they think about how far reform should go to catch up with digital age realities and how funders see their progress so far.

We’ve been talking about defining “better” universities not as the biggest but as those able to do certain things better than most. Things like treating top professionals and scholars equally. Or whether they are part of these transformational trends: 1. connect with the whole university, 2. innovate using digital tools and techniques, 3. teach open collaborative methods and, 4. through the “teaching hospital” method, become or increase their role as content providers who not only inform but engage communities.

To say journalism education reform is controversial would be an understatement. Bob Stepno, assistant professor at Radford University in Virginia, kept track of the debate this summer by reposting the “Newspaper & Online News Division” listserv. He says comments amounted to more than 600 pages of text, the largest discussion since 2008, when educators argued about adding “and online” to the listserv name. Poynter’s Howard Finberg, who presented an excellent speech of his own this summer on the future of journalism education, summed things up. Jeff Jarvis jumped in from CUNY, where they have the nation’s first entrepreneurial journalism degree.

Akron residents build playgrounds, and a sense of community

Aug. 6, 2012, 1:15 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas


Building playgrounds is not child's play. More than 600 Akron residents came out on Saturday Aug. 4 in three locations across the city to pour concrete, maneuver metal equipment and haul mulch.


The result for children: three beautiful playgrounds in neighborhoods where they were

desperately needed.


The result for the adult residents: a proud accomplishment after weeks of designing, planning, organizing and then engaging hundreds of neighbors in a physically grueling but rewarding day.

San Diego State launches app on iTunes

Aug. 6, 2012, noon, Posted by Jenna Buehler


Photo Credit: Flickr user Jade Elam

A new local news app developed by San Diego State University students recently hit the iTunes store. The surrounding community - both on and off campus - can use the mobile app to view, post and share local news and events.

Named after the San Diego State mascot, AzteCast emerged from a contest where schools had to develop an app using code or a platform developed by Knight News Challenge winners. Amy Schmitz Weiss, assistant professor of journalism, chose to use the technology of 2009 winner Ushahidi, which crowdsources, visualizes and maps information.

The San Diego project began with a desire for partnership. Schmitz Weiss said she had always wanted the journalism and media studies and computer science departments to work together. The contest criteria gave a reason to collaborate with computer science professor Joseph Lewis, who co-taught the mobile technology course.

She connected her students with Ushahidi and hosted video conference calls with the Kenyan-based entrepreneurs. Schmitz Weiss also sought mentorship from the 2011 Knight News Challenge winner PANDA Project , which helps news organizations use better public information by cleaning up and analyzing data. PANDA developer Brian Boyer, now of NPR, also visited the campus in April to help students with app design.

“[Boyer] was a powerful influence to students who had all of these ideas, but did not know where to begin. What we learned is that an app should do one thing really well—‘do it great, make it simple,’ that was his advice to us,” Schmitz Weiss said.