The 2008-2009 Advisory Board

A Message from the President

William O. Wheatley
Advisory Board President
A couple of years ago, Bob Giles asked the members of the Nieman Foundation Advisory Board for their thoughts on some key questions. In a time of uncertainty in journalism, he asked, what more could the foundation be doing to encourage high-quality reporting? How could it best use its influence to ensure the continuance of strong journalistic standards? What additional tools might it provide to Nieman Fellows to make sure that their future good work would be widely available?

These and other questions that Bob asked back then remain both important and difficult. But I’m happy to report that the advisory board has responded enthusiastically to the challenge of trying to answer them. An engaging discussion has ensued that has involved not only Bob and board members, but also the Nieman staff, the fellows, alumni and outside experts. These conversations have, in turn, helped to shape various Nieman initiatives aimed at assisting the journalism community.

Bob describes some of these steps elsewhere in this report. They include the Nieman Journalism Lab, new and improved foundation Web sites and multimedia training programs for the fellows.

While the Nieman Fellowships and the remarkable opportunity they provide for inquiry and personal growth remain at the heart of the Nieman experience, the new initiatives, as well as such traditional ones as Nieman Reports and the Nieman Watchdog Project, are helping to guarantee that the foundation continues to be a respected voice for encouraging journalism that meets the needs of an informed citizenry. At the same time, they are helping to make sure that Lippmann House remains an exciting and innovative place.

Of course, the uncertainty in journalism isn’t likely to resolve itself anytime soon. Indeed, there are some who believe that it will only accelerate. Whatever happens, the members of the advisory board remain committed to being of assistance in any way that they can. 

You may help, too. If you have thoughts on how the Nieman Foundation can best lend a hand to journalism in this transitional era, please be in touch with Bob ( or me ( or other members of the advisory board. We promise that your ideas will get our full attention.

William O. Wheatley Jr.
1977 Nieman Fellow