News

Knight Foundation grant supports enhanced Latin American fellowships

July 12, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Two Latin American journalists will receive Nieman Fellowships at Harvard University to help them discover new ways to inform and engage their communities and foster a free press in their own countries, thanks to a new grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to the Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

The funding expands the scope of the long-established Knight Latin American Nieman Fellowship by supporting new experimental fieldwork projects for the journalists at the end of the academic year, with a new grant of almost $200,000. These projects may involve in-depth coverage of a story, the creation of a new journalistic enterprise or research on policy and its impact.

Knight Foundation has supported the Knight Latin American Nieman Fellowship for more than 20 years, helping to educate 32 leading Latin American journalists.

“The new Knight Latin American Fellows will produce high-quality, relevant and credible journalism — the kind that is critical to sustaining democracy,” said Amy Starlight Lawrence, Knight Foundation journalism program associate. “We hope the field projects allow the fellows to put their learning into practice, giving them an opportunity for greater impact and engagement in their own communities.”

Two journalists have been selected as John S. and James L. Knight Latin American Nieman Fellows in the class of 2012. Claudia Méndez Arriaza, an editor and staff writer for El Periódico and co-host of the television program “A las 8:45” in Guatemala, will study law and political science to better understand the rule of law in emerging democracies. She also will explore American literature and its links to Latin American culture. Carlos Eduardo Huertas, an investigations editor for Revista Semana in Colombia, plans to explore how to best design a journalism center for transnational investigations in Latin America.

Ann Marie Lipinski, the Nieman Foundation’s new curator, said “The Latin American journalists who have benefited from the Knight Fellowships are leaders in their field. After studying with renowned scholars and experts at Harvard, they’ve returned home to share their knowledge with colleagues and in many different ways, have improved journalism throughout Latin America. They continue to promote high journalistic standards and collaborate with others to address challenges to the free flow of information in their communities.”

The Knight Nieman Fellows will collaborate with Harvard- and non-Harvard-based organizations focused on Latin America to build a network of scholars and sources that can advance their fieldwork projects. Harvard offers a multitude of Latin American resources and a key partner in the fellowship will be the university’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Fellows will also work with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas in Austin.

Previous Knight Nieman Fellows have written about their Nieman experiences for the Nieman Foundation website, often citing the transformational nature of their year at Harvard. Pablo Corral Vega, an Ecuadorean photojournalist and 2011 Knight Nieman Fellow commented, “I never imagined the Nieman experience would be so intense and profound. I knew I was coming to Harvard, a global hub of knowledge and research, but I didn’t realize that the people I met here would change my way of seeing and approaching the world. As journalists, we are prisoners of our reality, bound to our histories, to the issues we think we know. The Nieman year allows us to pause and imagine other worlds, to interact with people and areas of knowledge that we would never come across in other circumstances. Harvard offers access to an almost unlimited range of resources, but for me, the greatest opportunity has been learning from the other fellows and the staff of the Nieman Foundation.”

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard administers the oldest fellowship program for journalists in the world. Grants are awarded to accomplished professionals who come to Harvard University for a year of study, seminars and other special events. More than 1,300 journalists from 91 countries have received Nieman Fellowships. The Nieman Foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, an influential quarterly magazine and website that explores contemporary challenges and opportunities in journalism; Nieman Watchdog, a project that encourages journalists to monitor and hold accountable all those who exert power in public life; Nieman Journalism Lab, a collaborative effort by journalists and media commentators to identify emerging business models and best practices in journalism in the digital age; and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism in every medium and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. Learn more at KnightFoundation.org.