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June 23, 2008

The Tow Foundation Gives $5 Million to Establish New Media Center at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism
Gift creates opportunity to examine and advance new frontiers of media

Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism today announced a generous gift from The Tow Foundation to help establish a center dedicated to the research and teaching of professional journalism in new and emerging media. The $5 million endowment must be matched by an additional $10 million from other sources.

Students gather to work on projects and socialize at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.
Photo credit: Joe Fornabaio

The Tow gift is an opportunity to create a center of excellence that will examine as well as advance and create new forms of digital journalism. As traditional media, including print and broadcast, encounter tightening budgets and changing audience habits, new media are responding to the evolving needs and interests of the public. The gift will help bolster and inform the existing curriculum for the new media specialization as well as other new media initiatives at the Journalism School.

The center's primary mission will be to educate the next generation of journalists with the skills and knowledge to lead the future of professional journalism online and in other forms of digital journalism. The center will focus on the interactions between journalists and readers, as citizens themselves provide more reporting and commentary and readers seek ways to judge the reliability, standards and credibility in new media.

The center will also explore innovative methods of digital reporting and presentation, providing ways to create truly interactive journalism that will serve established media companies as well as newly created information outlets.

"This gift from The Tow Foundation reflects their vision of a journalism profession that evolves with changing demands and is based on sound research and cutting-edge innovation," said Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. "Their generosity is also a reminder and a challenge to those in the field of journalism to turn the obstacles we face into opportunities for growth."

Once the center is fully funded, Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism plans to hire two new full-time faculty members to lead the center and its work. The center will develop an enhanced curriculum for the Journalism School to explore the best methods of reporting and presentation, creating programming and communications that inspire dialogue on Internet journalism, support original scholarly research and press criticism, and fund the study of graduate students who will focus their studies on and careers in Internet journalism.

The Tow Foundation has also granted $3 million to the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism to establish a research center on new media.