Are you a skilled programmer or Web developer? Are you interested in applying your talents to the challenge of creating a better-informed society? Do you think technology can improve journalism -- or, maybe, believe that journalism is behind the curve technologically?
Consider applying to Medill to earn a master's degree in journalism. Thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Medill is offering scholarships to people with computer programming backgrounds to study in Medill's master's program. It's a one-year program, so you don't have to take a long career detour. You'll learn the fundamental principles of journalism and get a chance to combine your technology skills with your interest in building a better society.
Medill believes that journalism is a key foundation for a functioning democracy and that in the 21st century, programmer/developers are enormously important to the future of journalism. So we have partnered with the Knight Foundation to create this scholarship program for people with strong technology skills who are interested in pursuing a journalism master's degree at Medill.
Medill has offered these scholarships since 2007, when Prof. Rich Gordon won one of the first Knight News Challenge grants to create the scholarship program. Since then, nine scholarship winners have graduated from Medill and taken jobs in journalism and media organizations.
Journalists with computer programming skills are in high demand at media companies and technology companies. They work doing data analysis for journalistic research, launching startup companies, visualizing data for news websites, implementing content management systems, developing Web applications and overseeing the creation of digital media products.
Brian Boyer and Ryan Mark, awarded the first two Knight Scholarships, now lead the Chicago Tribune’s news applications team, which has earned a worldwide reputation for developing and deploying new technologies that help inform and engage online users. Under the motto of “Share Your Work,” the Tribune team has also released a large amount of open-source code being widely used by journalists and media organizations. In 2010, the team won the first Gannett Foundation Award for Digital Innovation in Watchdog Journalism, administered by the Associated Press Managing Editors.
Why study journalism? Here are some answers from the scholarship winners themselves:
• Ryan Mark: "Because journalism needs them. There are so many tech-capable people in journalism, but few who have logged the time to understand computer science and software development. A person who does not want to just write code for whoever pays them, and actually come up with and execute interesting software projects, the journalism experience will help you. This program got me out of my element and gave me first-hand experience that will help me relate to others in the field when I'm not elbow deep in code."
• Brian Boyer: "Because it's important. Cable television and the Web disrupted the business models of the big, important journalism organizations: newspapers. Now, the importance of a daily paper is debatable, but that democracy requires journalism to function is not. And so, for the sake of democracy itself, it is imperative that more nerds join the fight to save the news. We need to invent new business models, reinvent the newspaper, and create new forms of media. And the smart, passionate classmates make for some pretty good parties and great conversation."
• Geoffrey Hing: "Through my work with non-profits and grassroots organizations, I was always engaged around the news and information in my community. I felt like many of the roadblocks towards solving community problems that became framed as ideological conflicts were, at their roots, a result of an information gap within the community. People didn't understand what was happening, how government or institutions functioned, and the stories of different people with different orientations around community issues. Journalism seems like one of the fields best positioned to help meet the information needs of communities."
More information about the Medill graduate journalism program, including application procedures, can be found here.
If you have questions about the scholarship program, please contact Rich Gordon at email@example.com. For questions about the application process, contact Anne Penway, director of admissions and financial aid, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office of graduate admissions at 847-491-2052.
Voices of the program
Ryan Mark, Chicago Tribune News Application Developer
“It might be a very uncertain time to be going into journalism, but as a programmer with an entrepreneurial background, the current upheaval feels like a huge opportunity. Old rules are going out the window, and new, unprecedented things are being made. It's a great opportunity to be creative and inventive as a programmer and participate in rewiring journalism.”
Manya Gupta, Web Developer at The World Radio Show
"I was looking for a program that, along with imparting the journalistic knowledge, would also make me use my technical skills. Medill has provided me with a unique skill set that distinguishes me from the crowd."