Northeastern University to tailor master’s degree to journalists seeking to develop media innovation skills with $250,000 from Knight Foundation

BOSTON — (March 18, 2014) — Mid-career journalists seeking to develop in-demand skills in design, data and technology can soon apply to a new media innovation graduate program at Northeastern University. The program is supported by $250,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Funding will go toward piloting a media innovation track for the Master of Arts in journalism at Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design. The School of Journalism program will give working journalists the skills they need to meet the demands of the 21st-century digital newsroom, such as coding, information visualization, videography, database management and game design. Students will then apply these lessons to a long-term journalism project.

“Today’s journalists must not only report and write the news, but also deliver stories in print and online and supplement them with images, audio and video,” said Xavier Costa, dean of the College of Arts, Media and Design.

“By creating opportunities for journalists to expand their skills in the digital age, the media innovation program will help to both modernize journalism education and ensure that today’s reporters keep up with community information demands,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation. “In this way it will foster a model for other journalism schools to replicate.”

Led by Jeff Howe, assistant professor of journalism and program director, the media innovation track for the master’s degree grew from the realization that the most desirable skills in today’s newsrooms lie outside the discipline of journalism. Howe, a longtime magazine journalist for publications such as the New Yorker, Wired, Time, and The New York Times, sees an increasing demand for core journalism expertise paired with skills traditionally taught outside journalism.

“We don’t just want to train journalists in these new skills. We’re trying to transplant attitudes and strategies from fields such as software engineering and game design,” said Howe.

An “innovation seminar” will form a core part of the 3-semester program.  During the seminar faculty will work with small groups of students to apply their newfound skills to a project of their choice. After completing their master’s degree studies, journalists should be able to think more innovatively about news delivery and integrate fresh techniques into their reporting.

The School of Journalism will pilot the program by opening it to a small number of students in September 2014. The school will then open the application process to a larger group the following year. More information can be found on the School of Journalism’s website at

About the College of Arts, Media and Design

The College of Arts, Media and Design at Northeastern University is a hub for creativity, inquiry and entrepreneurship in communication and the arts. Through exceptional academic and experiential opportunities, we empower students to shape culture and influence the global marketplace.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.


Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]

Alison Cashin, Director of Communications & Marketing, Northeastern University College of Arts, Media and Design, 617-373-6795, [email protected]