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Cronkite School to help train journalism teachers

January 13, 2010

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication will help train high school journalism teachers from around the country for the next five years through a new grant by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

The Reynolds High School Journalism Institute at Arizona State University, operated by the American Society of News Editors, is made possible through a $4.6 million grant from the Reynolds Foundation.

The Reynolds Foundation created the institute three years ago with programs at Cronkite, the University of Missouri and the University of Nevada-Reno with a $2.3 million grant. Kent State University and the University of Texas have since been added.

Foundation chairman Fred W. Smith, in announcing the creation of the institute in 2007, said insuring that “the next generation of journalists has a solid understanding of the First Amendment and other journalistic principles is of vital importance to the future of the industry.”

Journalism teachers will focus on newsroom practices and journalistic values during the intensive two-week program. Newspaper advisers will be recruited from around the country, with a heavy focus on outreach to schools in urban and rural areas where journalism programs often have few resources.

The 35 teachers at each meeting will have their travel, housing, meals, continuing-education credit and instructional materials covered by the grant.

Steve Elliott, director of Cronkite News Service who runs the Reynolds Institute at the Cronkite School, said quality professional development programs are often not available in teachers’ home districts, especially when it comes to journalism.

“In many cases, someone who took a journalism course in college winds up as a high school’s journalism adviser,” Elliott said. “Our goal is to take people who already have a love of journalism and develop their reporting, writing and multimedia skills – along with news judgment, ethics and an appreciation of the role of a free press in society – so these professionals can do even more to nurture student journalists.”

ASNE ran the program from 2001 through 2006 with the financial support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Knight has remained committed to other core programs of the ASNE High School Journalism Initiative, including, the world's largest host of online youth news, and, an education site.

Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan, who organized one of the first ASNE high school programs in 2001 when he was at the University of Maryland, said expanding and improving high school journalism is critical to the future of the news media.

“We want more passionate, diverse young people interested in careers in journalism,” Callahan said. “We can go a long way in reaching that goal by teaching the teachers, thanks to the leadership of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and ASNE.”

Lori Hart, journalism adviser at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Ariz., called attending the 2008 Cronkite School institute “a fantastic two weeks.”

"Everything about this institute is professional, relevant and inspiring,” Hart said.

“I can hardly believe how much I have learned while I have been here,” said Becca Jackson, journalism adviser at Douglas County High School in Douglasville, Ga., and a 2009 participant. “This has been an incredible experience and I know that I will be able to use everything when I go back.”

The Reynolds High School Journalism Institute at ASU will take place on the Phoenix campus June 13-25. The other Reynolds institutes will convene at:

• Kent State University, July 11-23

• University of Missouri, July 18-30

• University of Nevada, July 11-23

• University of Texas, June 20-July 2

The application deadline is March 1.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed over $100 million through its journalism initiative.

The American Society of News Editors is comprised of top editors at news organizations; deans, directors and endowed chairs at accredited journalism schools; and leaders of journalism foundations and training organizations.

"In too many instances, youth journalism programs are under stress or marginalized,” said ASNE president Martin Kaiser, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “To counter this, institute alums and their students emerge as leaders, making the case that journalism has strong interdisciplinary value, imparts practical life skills applicable to any career and creates a sense of community.”