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Pam Fine

Knight Chair in News, Leadership and Community
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS


Pam Fine teaches reporting and other journalism classes and works with media organizations and community groups on projects to improve news coverage and the flow of information in communities.


Professor Fine joined the faculty in 2008 from the Indianapolis Star where she was managing editor of the newspaper’s print editions and Web site. Before that, she was managing editor and vice-president of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

Fine began her newspaper career at small papers in Florida and Georgia before joining the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where she served in a variety of roles including assistant managing editor, political editor, metro editor and reporter. She also wrote and anchored a TV headline service for Cox Cable.

She serves on the board of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). She has also been on the board of the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME), an Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute and a Pulitzer Prize juror four times.

She has a journalism degree from the University of Florida and a master’s in media management from the University of Missouri.

Grant Background

The focus would be on what role the press may play as a unifying force, fostering civility over hostility, common causes over special interests and community over conflict. This Knight Chair would teach undergraduate and graduate students, conduct interdisciplinary seminars and public forums and develop instructional materials on the press, leadership and community. With the chair upgrade, the university will increase its capacity to help both undergraduate and graduate students interested in careers in journalism as well as working journalists become more knowledgeable, more effective and better prepared for their careers.

Recent Activities

Gave students experience creating political coverage project to engage Millennial readers: For 2012 election season, provided innovative opportunity for students to produce political issues coverage for young adults like themselves. Students developed and used Web, social media and mobile platforms for this project. Content was produced and distributed by more than 40 recent graduates and students from the J-school and other parts of campus. Content was also shared with professional and campus news providers.  Through two semesters, the project site drew more than 60,000 unique visitors and 120,000 page views.

Collaborated on an E-book and forums addressing plagiarism and fabrication to help improve journalistic practices: Worked with a team of journalism professionals and academics to produce practical recommendations for combating plagiarism and fabrication. The conclusions were presented at a summit at the 2013 ACES conference in St. Louis and then published as an E-book. The project was organized by the American Copy Editors Society.  Also developed a panel on plagiarism and fabrication for the annual ASNE convention in June featuring representatives from the Associated Press, Reuters and ACES.

Redeveloped my sections of a required reporting course, to put more emphasis on writing and practical reporting experiences. This followed a collaboration with a small group of colleagues to overhaul the news track curriculum to increase emphasis on research, writing, visuals and innovation.

Elected secretary of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE); in line to be president of the organization in 2015-2016. 

Name one experiment or idea (a tool, an approach, a book) in journalism, journalism education or media innovation that is “out there” -- pushing the frontier. Why do you think that project is interesting? Add detail if you plan to incorporate it in your teaching

I like the approach the New York Times is taking to incorporate comments by readers into  online storytelling. The editors are embedding select comments within story packages so readers come across the comments as they’re reading along, rather than just seeing comments at the end of stories or on separate social media pages. The Times’ editors are also trying improve the quality of comments on select stories by posing specific questions to readers.  They then publish the responses in separate Q&As so readers can see responses to the particular questions or topics they care about.  Here’s a link to an example a Times editor shared at the ASNE convention. You can see comments throughout the story.  Then, toward the bottom (on the left hand side), you’ll find links to a set of questions posed by the paper and readers’ comments to each:

I’ve shared the approach with student media editors who are interested in improving reader engagement. I’d like to have students in my upper level reporting class next semester experiment with developing and posing questions on certain stories as a way to create and extend conversation and take advantage of the two-way dialogue that’s possible. The approach offers a good way to include reader experiences in coverage and get story ideas.

We define the “teaching hospital” model of journalism education as a system of learning by doing where students, scholars and professionals fully engage with the community they are serving by using innovative tools, techniques and informed research. Do you agree with that definition? If so, how should journalism schools seek to add community engagement and experimentation to the kind of journalism they now produce?

Our journalism school and many others are increasing opportunities for student journalists to get innovative and professional experiences so they’re better prepared for the workplace when they graduate.  That’s a good thing. Through classes, internships, media labs, projects, events and research opportunities, students are getting hands-on experience and worthwhile exposure to issues and people in their communities and states.  Some of these opportunities are through partnerships with media organizations, technology incubators and other organizations that are working on projects to transform their own businesses or nurture new ones. Journalism schools such as ours are also creating centers that focus on health and other important issues that produce applied research for use by practitioners and communities.