Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Specialized Reporting Institute Recap: Census 2010 Boot Camp for Journalists

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The University of Michigan last month hosted a McCormick Foundation Specialized Reporting Institute: Census 2010 Boot Camp for Journalists.

The McCormick Foundation's goal with the three-day U of M workshop was to inform and prepare journalists to cover next year's Census. The participants were offered resources and opportunities to learn what impact an accurate Census can have on governance and civic engagement, and the important role that journalism plays in uncovering the resulting issues and stories.

The 25 journalists represented a diverse audience, including freelance writers and reporters and editors from NPR, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Chicago Tribune's Red Eye, The Seattle Times and the Miami Herald. For more details, view the agenda, materials and photo album from the boot camp. 

The McCormick Foundation launched the Specialized Reporting Institute series in 2006 as a platform to assist journalists in their coverage of timely, sophisticated topics of interest to news audiences. We are currently reviewing applications for new workshops and will announce the 2010 series in January. To learn more about the Specialized Reporting Institutes, please visit our Web site.

Above: Robert Groves and Barbara Bryant, current and former Census Bureau directors

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do Nonprofits Need Newspapers?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In the current issue of the Carnegie Reporter , Foundation critic Pablo Eisenberg explores—and offers a solution to—the decline of accountability in the nonprofit sector due to the continuing demise of investigative journalism. 

Eisenberg writes that investigative journalism has helped keep nonprofit organizations publicly accountable, tempering their problems and excesses through the power and threat of information and exposure. He suggests that donors and foundations step in to save regional newspapers by converting them into nonprofit entities. "Their actions would infuse journalism with the energy, integrity, quality and stability that it so desperately needs." And, he says, it could insure the continuing oversight of nonprofits and foundations.

We were surprised that Eisenberg was surprised that "neither big individual donors nor major foundations have shown any interest in reviving American newspapers and quality journalism." 
Strengthening investigative reporting and quality journalism is one of the McCormick Journalism Program's priorities--and we invest more than $6.2 million annually in grants to non-profit organizations strengthening our free and democratic society through journalism.

The essay, Why Nonprofits Need Newspapers, is published by Carnegie Corporation of New York, a foundation with a long record of supporting journalism initiatives.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009 New Media Women Entrepreneurs Summit

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We were delighted to see more than 80 women convene on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, at J-Lab's 2009 New Media Women Entrepreneurs Summit, funded by the McCormick Foundation, to exchange ideas, best practices and tips on creating successful community news sites. Thirteen of the past grant award winners had a chance to show off their sites, talk about challenges and opportunities, and field questions from the audience--journalists, creative writers, producers, media specialists and social media mavens. Topics covered included: Covering communities with startup hyperlocal sites, training citizen journalists, launching niche sites, building partnerships and sustaining operations.

A few highlights:

  • 5 Tips on Training Citizen Journalists from Twin Cities Daily Planet editor Mary Turck: 1) Start with the basics: 5 W's: who, what, where, when and why; 2) Show, not tell; 3) Understand the power of positive feedback; 4) Dole out rewards and swag (ideally with your logo) 5) Stay constantly connected with writers via e-mail.
  • Lisa Williams, keynote and NMWE of the year, talked about the importance of putting personality into your site. Williams, the founder of, gave some inspiring advice and talked about how she got her start. See her presentation here (really funny). William's advice to the crowd: "Don't do anything for free that you wouldn't do for free indefinitely." 
  • Courtney Lowery, editor at shared advice about what it takes to keep a non-profit news site running, and how passion and sweat equity helped her get where she is today.'s business model is unique in that it generates revenue conferences and offers CE credits to attendees, which really boosts attendance. 
  •  J-Lab announced the findings of its latest McCormick-funded research on New Entrepreneurs: New Perspectives on News. Read more about the new forms of journalism, characterized by a shift in objectivity and a drive for community conversation.
Thanks to all the savvy bloggers who have compiled live twitter feeds and summarized great tips and takeaways from the event . Here's what we've seen so far (and please let us know if you have more to add to the list): 

  • Knight Digital Media Center's Michelle McLellan's compendium of Good Ideas from the summit in her Leadership 3.0 blog. 
  • Greg Linch's live blog coverage.

Have a great new media business idea, or know somebody who does? We encourage you to apply or nominate somebody for the award. Read more about the initiative at The deadline is April 12, 2010.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

14th Annual Free Speech and Open Government Assembly

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The McCormick Foundation co-sponsored the First Amendment Coalition 's Oct. 24 free speech conference at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Ethnic journalists, students, lawyers and community activists were among the 90 attendees. 

"For journalists and soon-to-be journalists looking for professional training, we had multiple sessions focused on practical guidance, giving journalists ideas for stories, information that can yield good stories, and a basic understanding of the factual context for reporting, at the local and community level, on selected, controversial issues," says Peter Scheer, executive director of FAC.

Workshops offered tips on how to cover public education reform and local law enforcement, as well as legal tools for enterprise reporting on city and county government. 

Multi-lingual panelists (Spanish, Vietnamese and English) discussed leveraging Freedom of Information (FOI) laws and specific uses of online tools to obtain government records. 

"[The tools for reporting on local government panel was] an excellent panel that dealt with some of the problems journalists face when they get stonewalled by city government while covering daily beats," Riya Bhattacharjee, staff writer at The Berkeley Daily Planet.

"Attorney James Chadwick, L.A. Times staff writer Jack Leonard and San Jose Mercury News Managing Editor Bert Robinson did an incredible job explaining the nuts and bolts of the Freedom of Information Act, the California Public Records Act and the Brown Act, all of which offer a lifeline to any reporter who would otherwise be completely shut out of ways to get hold of important government records," Bhattacharjee says.

Training sessions included a demonstration of, a legislative database for use by California journalists to analyze special interests' influence on bills, votes.  

Panel discussions  focused on  journalists' use of social media and new business models for news reporting.   

Featured speakers included Alex Jones (pictured above), author of "Losing the News," and Alexandra Berzon, 2009 Pulitzer winner.
     View and download the event program for more information.

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    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    McCormick Fellows Forum 2009: Comfort Cams + Broke-A** Brides?!

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    A record-breaking number of McCormick Fellows - 55 of the initiative’s 95 minority media execs from across the country - gathered in Chicago last week for the Fellowship’s annual Fall Forum. In its 11th year, the program allows minority news execs to attend some of the industry’s leading management training and also provides a platform for sharing their views on critical issues facing the news industry. Highlights from this year’s program included:

    • A talk on use of social media led by Fellow Javier Morgado of NBC News
    • A discussion on the state of diversity initiatives in the news industry led by Fellow Larry Olmstead of Leading Edge Associates
    • A brainstorming session where Fellows explored new online tools and used them to develop concepts for niche news and information sites, led by Sybril Bennett of Belmont University

    This last session led to some winning - and hilarious - concepts:
    • A Web site for family members to monitor elderly relatives by viewing Comfort Cam.
    • A site for newbies in a community to connect with a church that matches their faith.
    • And yes, a site for wedding planners on a budget… called Broke-Ass Brides!

    In our continuing series on journalists "reinventing" themselves, we caught up with McCormick Fellow Alli Joseph to ask her about her new company Seventh Generation Stories… (click here)

    For more on the Fellows initiative, visit the program’s Web site .

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