Hearst Foundations grant supports News21 initiative

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University has received a grant from the Hearst Foundations to support the national Carnegie-Knight News21 program.

The gift of $150,000 will make it possible for top journalism students from around the country to come to the Cronkite School for a summer News21 reporting experience. The Hearst fellows will work with accomplished news editors to investigate critical issues facing the nation and tell stories in a rich multimedia format. 

The national News21 program is part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, an effort by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to change the way journalism is taught in the U.S. and train a new generation of journalists. The Cronkite School serves as the national headquarters for the program.

This year, News21 fellows from Arizona State University, Harvard University, University of Maryland, University of Missouri and University of Nebraska collaborated to produce a major national investigation into food safety that was published by the Washington Post, msnbc.com and the Center for Public Integrity, among other publications. Last year’s fellows conducted an investigation into transportation safety that also received wide publication and was a finalist for the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism.

Executive Director Paul “Dino” Dinovitz said the Hearst Foundations “wanted to participate in this innovative project that is revitalizing journalism education.”

The grant will fund wages and travel for up to four fellows each summer for three years. The fellows will work out of the Cronkite School’s state-of-the-art digital media complex in downtown Phoenix under the direction of William K. Marimow, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who has been top editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, National Public Radio and the Baltimore Sun.

Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, will provide regular consulting to the newsroom from Phoenix and Washington.

The Hearst Foundations have long been a supporter of the Cronkite School, funding the Hearst Visiting Professionals Program, which brings journalism and communications professionals to the school each year to visit classes, conduct lectures and meet with faculty and students. This year’s visiting professionals have included Kim Barker, a reporter for ProPublica and author of "The Taliban Shuffle"; Charles Lewis, executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop; and Steve Rubel, executive vice president of global strategy and insights for Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm.

Publisher and philanthropist William Randolph Hearst founded The Hearst Foundation Inc. in 1945. Three years later he established the California Charities Foundation, which was renamed the William Randolph Hearst Foundation in 1951. Today the Foundations operate as a single entity under the name the Hearst Foundations and function as private philanthropic organizations independent of The Hearst Corporation. 

The foundations’ funding priorities include the fields of education, health, culture and social service. The organization operates the United States Senate Youth Program and the Hearst Journalism Awards Program, often called the Pulitzers of collegiate journalism.