Knight scholarship awardees take the same courses as other students pursuing a master of science in journalism (MSJ), with a few additional options. In your first academic quarter, you will be enrolled in Journalism Methods, our orientation to news reporting, writing and storytelling. In your second quarter, you will cover a news beat in our Chicago newsroom. And in your final quarter, you will enroll in one of our Innovation Project classes, in which you and a team of students will develop a new digital media product.
What else you take will depend on the concentration you choose. You can take elective graduate courses in Medill's journalism or integrated marketing communications classes, or in other Northwestern graduate programs. You also can take advanced courses in computer science, such as Human-Computer Interaction, Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, and Software Project Management.
Scholarship winners also have an opportunity to work in the Knight News Innovation Laboratory and Medill’s new Watchdog/Accountability Initiative. These programs provide exciting, practical opportunities to combine journalism and programming.
From what previous scholarship winners have told us, the learning goes way beyond the class experience:
• Brian Boyer: "I learned the old-school way of practicing journalism: from the laws and ethics to slugs and nut grafs and inverted pyramids. This is the sort of knowledge software designers rarely have about their users. Now that I'm a journalist, I can write tools for myself -- and that's the easiest way to get it right. In addition, participating in the program has put me in touch with an amazing community of journogeeks. There are a mess of brilliant folks doing great work to further journalism online, and during my time at Medill, I've been able to connect to that community, in person at conferences and via blogging and Twittering."
• Ryan Mark: "I got a new skill. I learned how to write and report, something I had no idea how to do before I started. I feel confident enough about what I learned that I could go out and report for a living. Also, I got to work with great people. I have never worked with a group of such talented, driven, capable people before."
• Manya Gupta: "First and most important, I have learned to report, write and think like a journalist. I look for a story in everything around me! But it is not just old-style writing that I have learned. Medill is a place where the old meets the young -- because with every print story I also created a multimedia piece and that is how I learned the importance of storytelling in the most effective manner. Beyond that, I have met amazing people, participated in some very intriguing discussions and learned from people with tremendous amount of experience. What I have liked most is that everyone is so willing to share what they have learned. Moreover, it has given me the opportunity to explore; by interacting with people from different walks of life, by understanding their problems, issues and lives, and by telling stories through creative media."
• Geoffrey Hing: "I've come to appreciate the difficulty in comprehensively reporting complex topics, not to mention the time and resources that it takes. Personally, it's been really good for me to feel a stronger sense of responsibility for making sure that my understanding, and the understanding that I convey, is as true and complete as I can make it. The process of writing the news has made me realize that many of the things that frustrated me about the mainstream media were driven, not so much by bias, but the limitations of different media (inches in a newspaper, minutes in the nightly news) and making tough decisions about the kind of content that will help a media organization be economically sustainable."
• Steven Melendez: "I've certainly honed my writing. I've also improved my multimedia skills, which were pretty much nonexistent before I started here. I'd barely used a video camera and never done any audio or video editing. I'm not an expert in these fields now, and I probably never will be, but it's definitely nice to have some understanding of how things are done. I've also found myself reading newspaper and magazine articles more critically -- paying more attention to how they're arranged, who the reporters spoke to and what kind of information they've chosen to highlight."
• Shane Shifflett: "I'll spare everyone my soapbox, but since coming to Medill I've learned what incredible feats good journalists are capable of. Being able to transmute ideas and express concepts in words concisely can be challenging. To do so honestly and without bias is even harder. To do it all on a deadline is ... well, it's a lot to ask for, to put it mildly. I have come to the realization that it takes a lot of work, and sometimes a lot of risk, to get a good story out. The news industry isn't something that can be easily replaced by a cohort of bloggers and citizen journalists."