For the past year, the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education has been renovating the organization from the ground up through a major ‚ÄúMaynard Re-Imagined‚ÄĚ project, during which it reconsidered what the Institute could and should offer to the media sector in the way of programming, training, and diversity resources, what audiences it might serve over the next several years with a growing digital sphere, and new sources of funding to support its new initiatives.
‚ÄúRather than asking what can we do to change Maynard, we asked, what is needed from us?‚ÄĚ said Maynard co-executive director Martin G. Reynolds, who helped lead the organization through its rethink process. ‚Äú Through conversations, we came up with new key areas of focus and initiatives that we are going to begin to really drill down on.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs developing a new training to teach students how to report more thoughtfully on stories that involve issues such as race or class, so that colleges and universities can be better prepared to ‚Äúnavigate the nuances of a more diverse society,‚ÄĚ Reynolds told me. The curriculum will be developed with Arizona State University‚Äôs Cronkite School, the University of Arizona‚Äôs School of Journalism, Louisiana State University‚Äôs Manship school, and Morgan State University‚Äôs School of Global Journalism and Communication, and the Knight Foundation is supporting the pilot with a $134,000 grant (disclosure: Knight also supports Nieman Lab).
The Institute is also embarking on an initiative it‚Äôs calling Maynard 200, which will focus on supporting and promoting around 200 people of color in media over the next five years in hopes of ‚Äúreplenishing the pipeline,‚ÄĚ it announced Wednesday, with a full unveiling of what‚Äôs next for the Institute to come at this year‚Äôs National Association of Black Journalists conference in New Orleans. Google News Lab will serve as a launch partner for the Maynard 200 project, and will sponsor some of the pilot work with $100,000 in initial funding.
‚ÄúA whole generation of journalists of color have been wiped out since the market crash of 2008 and 2009, with a subsequent loss of minority journalists at all levels of the news industry, and we‚Äôd like to help support a new generation in storytelling, entrepreneurship, and leadership,‚ÄĚ Reynolds said. ‚ÄúThis isn‚Äôt just a training program; we want this to be a movement within journalism, to embrace these journalists and give them the tools and the community they need to be successful.‚ÄĚ
The digital, startup space needs this approach as well: ‚ÄúSome of these organizations may think because they are young and progressive they don‚Äôt need to be as intentional about diversity,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúThe infrastructure that used to be in some organizations ‚ÄĒ whether that was formal mentorship or other types of training programs ‚ÄĒ some of that‚Äôs been stripped away in the entrepreneurial space. Then you‚Äôve got this whole other freelancing world, too, with people fending for themselves and their own professional development.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe philosophical point we‚Äôre doubling down on here, is that that diverse voices can be key indicators of trustworthy content,‚ÄĚ Maynard co-executive director Evelyn Hsu said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre all talking about trust and news literacy ‚ÄĒ you can‚Äôt have news literacy if you don‚Äôt have trust, and you can ‚Äėt have trust if you don‚Äôt have diversity.‚ÄĚ
Broader strategic planning is ongoing, as the Institute tries to figure out how to bring on staff to support these new initiatives. It‚Äôs also trying to expand its base of funders, and will, among other efforts, turn to Maynard alumni who are aware of the value of the institute‚Äôs programming for additional support. The Maynard Family Funders, as these donors will be known, ‚Äúwill help us undergird the organization on a more recurring donation basis,‚ÄĚ Reynolds said. ‚ÄúThe Institute can no longer be solely reliant foundations to support us. We have great philanthropic partners, but they also have other needs. We know how to make a strong case for the Institute, but we need to diversify our own funding stream.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAs we were going through the process, speaking with grads and people in academia, people in the news business, and even those outside of it who don‚Äôt know us, I was struck by the support for the Institute and the respect it commands among our alumni,‚ÄĚ Hsu said. ‚ÄúTheir devotion and gratitude to the Institute is something we want to continue to build upon; we want to help our alumni and we want to help grow another generation of them.‚ÄĚ
Used with permission.