Knight Center for Journalism Expands its Digital Reach to Latin America and the Caribbean

Austin, Texas – The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas here will refocus its work as a digital media center for Latin American and Caribbean journalism and expand its efforts to serve as an incubator for new journalism organizations.

The University of Texas at Austin will use a $1.6 million grant over five years from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to teach journalists in the Americas the latest techniques and practices of digital journalism.

The announcement came at the beginning of the fifth Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, an annual conference at the university’s College of Communication. The two-day meeting unites representatives of more than 30 organizations from throughout the Americas.

“The best proof of the value of free expression is the practice of quality journalism. The Knight Center is a powerful force for professional journalism in the Americas,” said Eric Newton, vice president of the foundation’s journalism program.

In 2002, the university launched the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, directed by Rosental C. Alves, the Knight Chair in International Journalism at Texas.

In five years, the Knight Center has trained thousands of Latin American and Caribbean journalists in workshops and seminars throughout the region, and through online courses from its trilingual web site (http://knightcenter.utexas.edu). The Knight Center has helped create a new generation of training and press freedom groups in several countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia. It also formed the Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, a network of organizations dedicated to elevating the standards of journalism in the region.

The Knight Center will now lead thousands of journalists and journalism organizations in the Americas into the 21st century.

The center will help create new journalists’ organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, and will continue its work with existing ones. It will train several thousand more journalists through seminars and workshops that mix online and on-the-ground training. The center will redesign its web site and electronic newsletter to increase its membership, circulation, fund-raising capacity and to improve its alumni network.

Over the next five years, the grant will enable the Knight Center to expand its digital work while raising funds for an extra year of operation and to plan an endowment campaign.

“The Internet has already been at the center of our activities, from the listservs we host for thousands of journalists from many countries to our pioneer distance education program that uses a multimedia platform,” said Alves. “But now, thanks to the generosity of Knight Foundation, we are launching a Knight Center 2.0, an extended version of our original project, with a clearer focus on the impact of the digital revolution on journalism.”

Immediately after the Austin Forum, the Knight Center will also host the Freedom of the Press Monitoring and Advocacy in Latin America Conference, organized thanks to the support of the Network Media Program of the Open Society Institute.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests in journalism excellence worldwide and in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted more than $300 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. It focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.