The initial fellow quartet includes Lisa Anderson, former New York bureau chief at Chicago Tribune; Jill Drew, associate editor at the Washington Post; Terry McDermott, 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Times, and Don Terry, who was part of a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning team.
The foursome will write for CJR for a nine-month period and receive a stipend as they mull how to apply their journalism expertise for the next phase of their careers. Journalism, in turn, benefits from their long experience and reporting skills.
The program is a partnership of The Atlantic Philanthropies; Civic Ventures, the San Francisco group that has helped Silicon Valley veterans transition to non-profit careers and the Poynter Institution, which will teach the fellows new digital skills.
Unfortunately, there are many potential fellow candidates in journalism land. The restructure of the media landscape combined with the advertising recession has resulted in the loss of 16,000 print jobs this year. CJR hopes for additional funding so it can help other laid off journos.
Meanwhile, Columbia University is suspending its esteemed environmental journalism program as newspapers drop science and “green" coverage.” It’s a painful move for journalism as the global warming issue and rise of “cleantech” are going to be big topics during the next decade.
Columbia is putting the program on hold due to the media’s dire financial straits and the drop in tuition funding opportunities for students. Kim Kastens and Marguerite Holloway, directors of the program, understand students assume “a huge debt for the knowledge and skills” of the program. They are not “comfortable exhorting young people to take on the burden when their chances of repaying it have so diminished." Also, graduates of the program that still have jobs are scrambling to do their own work and that of laid-off colleagues.
One small ray of good news: the environmental journalism program has been suspended not dropped.