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Journalism program renamed Knight-Wallace Fellows

By Nancy Connell
News and Information Services

The Michigan Journalism Fellows program has received a $5 million challenge grant from the Knight Foundation, and another $1 million match from “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace. The program, celebrating its 30th anniversary, has been renamed The Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan in recognition of the support.

From the Knight endowment, $2 million will establish two fellowships a year for international journalists on the opposite sides of a world “hot spot.” In 2002, for example, a Muslim and an Israeli journalist are in residence. The Knight endowment also will enable the program to ensure that environmental studies are offered, and it will create a link with Michigan State University, which has a Knight Chair in Environmental Journalism. Overall, the support will help the fellowship program maintain its competitive stance in stipends for participants, recruiting and outreach. The grant calls for the remaining $4 million to be raised over five years.

“The Knight brothers, and the foundation they founded, were and have been drawn to programs aimed at improving journalism,” says Hodding Carter III, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation. “The Michigan Fellows program has created a sterling record of attracting global journalism’s best and brightest, educating them in the key issues of our times, and returning them to newsrooms where they set standards many others strive for. New generations of Knight-Wallace Fellows will continue that tradition.”

Wallace says, “I cannot think of a more satisfying way of giving back to the University of Michigan, from which I got so much back in the late 1930s, than to help mid-career journalists take a year’s time out to study, think, write—or just contemplate their navels. Fact is, Michigan Fellows emerge from that year energized, wiser and better at what they do.”

President Mary Sue Coleman says she is “deeply appreciative to the Knight Foundation and journalist Mike Wallace for their support. We are delighted to rename our program to recognize the Knight Foundation, the preeminent source of foundation support for journalism, and Mike Wallace, an icon in broadcast news. Both our benefactors stand for the highest values of quality and integrity in the profession.”

Charles Eisendrath, who has directed the program and its fund-raising drive since 1986, says, “The Knight Foundation is the program’s largest institutional supporter and Mike is the leading individual donor. That they maintain their confidence in our efforts to support the best in journalism is a deep pleasure and signal honor for all of us.”

The journalism fellows program at Michigan invites 12 journalists from the United States and six from other countries each year to Ann Arbor, where participants select their own course of study for an academic year. It occupies a unique position because it is part of a public university, is located in the Midwest and includes specialized training in addition to general studies.

The highly competitive program accepts one out of eight applicants, and its 435 alumni include many accomplished journalists: Barry Bearak of the New York Times won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting from Afghanistan, and Henry Allen of the Washington Post was awarded a Pulitzer in criticism the year before. Ellen Soeteber, editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Charles Gibson, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America”; and Jim Russell, creator of public radio’s “Market Place,” also are alumni.

The University launched the program 30 years ago with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. A $750,000 gift from the Knight Foundation was critical to its continuation when the end of federal support threatened its existence in 1985, and subsequent gifts have established fellowships in business, law, medical and educational reporting. Wallace’s previous gifts include an endowed fellowship in investigative reporting and, with his wife, the Mike and Mary Wallace House, the fellowship program’s headquarters.

 

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