National Arts Journalism Program
2950 Broadway, Mail Code 7200
New York, NY 10027

tel: 212.854.1912, fax: 212.854.8129

THE NATIONAL ARTS JOURNALISM PROGRAM was launched in 1994 on the initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts to advance the quantity and quality of arts coverage in the press. During the “culture wars” years, inadequate news coverage had contributed to apathy about the arts at a time when artists, art institutions, and the idea of government arts funding were coming under attack.

The NAJP was designed to meet these concerns by offering professional development to journalists in all arts fields, in the hope that improved skills and communication among them would lead to more comprehensive and informed arts coverage and, ultimately, greater public appreciation of the arts. The NAJP followed the model of existing journalism fellowship programs, notably the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University , that allow arts writers to take time out from deadline pressures to deepen their knowledge and develop new skills and contacts. What made NAJP unique was its sole focus on the arts. The program’s larger aims pointed beyond journalism – toward engagement with timely issues in culture.

In its first three years, the program was based at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A dozen journalists were housed in groups of three on four campuses in addition to Northwestern – the University of Georgia, Columbia University, and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The fellows took classes and worked on practicum projects with local arts organizations. They came together twice a year and contributed to a jointly published journal.

Consolidated at Columbia
The award of a second three-year grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts led to several key changes. In 1997 the program was consolidated at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, in association with Columbia's School of the Arts, under an expanded management team and staff. In the ensuing years the NAJP’s broadened its reach and developed into a full-fledged academic center.

Ambitious research publications examined the state of arts coverage in newspapers and television. National conferences, such as the “Who Owns Culture?” symposium on cultural property and patrimony, as well as smaller panel discussions and lectures brought together journalists with artists, academic experts and cultural executives.

NAJP launched a series of occasional reports containing transcripts of public events. The NAJP journal appeared with an award-winning new design and under a new title, ARTicles.

After 1998 senior fellows were accepted into the program for three-month writing residencies. These nationally recognized writers worked on books, gave public lectures, and offered mentorship to their mid-career colleagues. A traveling component was added to the program as cohorts of alumni visited New Orleans and Havana. Under a third three-year Pew grant, the NAJP expanded further and stepped up its convening and publications activities.

Among the milestones of this period were major conferences, such as The New Gatekeepers symposium on freedom of expression in the arts, and the launch of an unprecedented series of surveys of arts-journalism disciplines, including The Visual Art Critic and The Architecture Critic. Some projects were based on the work of NAJP Research Fellows who substituted their practicum with arts organizations with contributions to research studies and conferences.

By 2002 the NAJP had grown into a nationally and internationally recognized center for arts journalism – the only one of its kind in the world. The number of fellows and alumni had surpassed 100; almost as many attended NAJP’s second reunion in San Francisco in the summer of 2002. In recent years, the program has continued to change and evolve. No longer a Pew Charitable Trusts initiative, the NAJP now receives support from a range of funders. All NAJP fellows currently accepted into the program are mid-career journalists who, as research fellows, collaborate with the NAJP on research projects and public events. Midcareer fellows join the NAJP for one-semester residencies in the spring.

NAJP’s latest research venture is Reporting the Arts II, the first study to document the gradual decline of arts coverage in the news media, which drew on the work of some 40 NAJP fellows and alumni, including the entire class of 2003-2004 fellows. The 2004-2005 fellows are contributing to public events at Columbia, including panel discussions and conferences on pop-music criticism, differences between European and American models of Arts journalism, and a survey of recent arts-and-cultural research.

Recent Changes
The most significant changes in the program in recent years have been the addition of short-term training programs for larger groups of arts writers and continuing internationalization of the NAJP.

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the NAJP in fall 2004 organized the first Arts Journalism Institute for writers who cover classical music and opera. The participants came from 20 U.S. states, all from outside the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Since 2002 the program has also been accepting international fellows, with support from their counties of origin, and groups of NAJP fellows and alumni have continued to visit destinations abroad for study tours organized by the visited countries.

Starting in the fall of 2005, the NAJP will operate at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism alongside a new Master of Arts program in arts journalism. Today, with an alumni and fellow network of over 130 journalists spread throughout the country and in all branches of the news media, the NAJP is the nation’s leading authority on arts journalism. But the challenges that the program was formed to meet are as pressing as ever. Through its fellows, alumni, publications and programs, the NAJP will continue to advance best practices in the field and to work with the press toward a more rigorous, better informed public debate about the arts in America.

NAJP : About Us : History