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American Society of Newspaper Editors, Knight Foundation partner to improve high school journalism

April 13, 2000

RESTON, Va. — A $500,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will launch a major American Society of Newspaper Editors initiative to link the strengthening of high school journalism with improved diversity within the nation’s newsrooms.

The initial one-year grant is for the first phase of a multiyear program. ASNE intends to focus on improving the waning health of high school journalism, with emphasis on the importance of the First Amendment to the strength and vitality of a democratic society. Knight and ASNE hope that by building a larger group of students with firsthand experience as journalists, they can help broaden and deepen the pool of prospective newsroom professionals.

During the next year, ASNE will work with collaborators in universities, school districts and the news industry to develop a long-term strategy with the help of Knight Foundation’s $500,000 grant. The two partners expect that a comprehensive program aiming at reaching high schools in communities across the country will be put in place thereafter.

Key goals will be development of a program of education and inspiration for journalism teachers and school newspaper advisers, establishing a process to build newspaper and school district partnerships, and building a web site to serve journalism students and educators. Starting, restarting and re-energizing high school newspapers both on newsprint and on the Internet will be an important element of the program.

The high school initiative, nurtured by Knight Foundation with longtime partner ASNE, is an example of how the Foundation’s two overriding interests – journalism of excellence and stronger communities – come together. The community emphasis of this endeavor is different from the majority of Knight’s journalism programs, which are generally national and even international in scope.

“It’s hard to attract students to something about which they have little firsthand knowledge,” said Hodding Carter III, president and CEO of Knight Foundation. “We hope that our collaborative venture with ASNE will significantly improve the condition of high school journalism and consequently boost the number of youngsters interested in a journalism career. At the same time, the point is to make it more likely that the nation’s newsrooms, whose mission is to reflect America’s reality in their reporting, will also reflect its reality in their work force.”

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Knight on this fundamental investment in the future,” said N. Christian Anderson III, president of ASNE. “It is testament to ASNE’s connection to America’s newspapers and Knight’s commitment to journalism and local communities. We hope this is only the beginning of a continuing effort to improve the understanding of the First Amendment and the quality and stature of high school journalism in this country.” Anderson is publisher and CEO of The Orange County Register, Santa Ana, Calif.

Knight has made grants amounting to nearly $3 million since 1980 to ASNE for various projects and initiatives, but this is the largest by far.

With nearly 900 members, ASNE is the principal organization of newspaper editors throughout the Americas. It is active in a number of areas, concentrating on improving the diversity, readership and credibility of newspapers.

Knight Foundation’s Journalism Program supports organizations engaged in the education of current and future journalists, journalism excellence and the defense of a free press worldwide. Since its first journalism grant in 1954, Knight Foundation has made grants of more than $135 million to the field.