The Year in Review

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The Class of 2010

The special alchemy that transforms a group of strangers into fast friends during the course of the Nieman year is a powerful, sometimes life-changing force. In the case of the class of 2010, it was sparked by the sharing of great joys and sorrows, challenges and triumphs. Those experiences ranged from deep personal loss and the residual stress caused by dangerous working conditions to the successful launch of a carefully researched book. Participation in seminars, soundings classes, social events and family outings added to the mix as the Nieman Fellows came together, bonded and expanded their skills, knowledge and horizons.

New Media, New Skills

The 2010 fellows were the first to benefit from a new yearlong multimedia curriculum that examined innovative strategies and business models for news organizations as well as best practices for journalists in the new media age. Sessions included practical information about building a website, blogging, social networking, branding, crowdsourcing and online tools for reporting.

Hands-on training sessions in audio and video production, editing, photography and documentary filmmaking were taught by pros like Mara Schiavocampo, digital correspondent for “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” photojournalist Thorne Anderson, filmmakers Judith Vecchione and Llewellyn Smith and Doug Mitchell, who for years has been teaching reporters how to produce radio journalism. From Flash and Final Cut Pro to computer-assisted reporting, the fellows had a full slate of programs from which to choose.

Outside of class, experienced fellows and affiliates offered supplemental tutorials for those eager to improve their multimedia production skills. And separately, the fellows made an effort learn from one another, sharing ideas and concerns about their careers in journalism during weekly Friday lunch meetings. Filmmakers in the class also screened rough cuts of their work to receive vital feedback from their peers.

Exploring Harvard and New England

Giving back to the Harvard community, the fellows shared their experiences and expertise across campus in classrooms, in public panel discussions and in the more intimate confines of Lippmann House. They also mentored young journalists at The Harvard Crimson, spoke to student journalists at the annual Georges Conference on College Journalism and helped judge the Nieman Foundation’s annual journalism prizes.

The fellows reached across oceans, setting up a Web chat with a group of Afghan journalists selected for the Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism in order to better understand the many challenges and dangers they face on the job. And the fellows reached out locally, arranging a trip to The Boston Globe to meet with editor Martin Baron and scheduling a private session with Margaret Marshall, the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Many in the class were natural organizers, eager to arrange talks with speakers, plan social events and schedule trips that ranged from a winter ski weekend to Vermont to a springtime visit to Provincetown on Cape Cod. They scheduled group tours to explore the many treasures in and around Harvard such as the Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. They often gave of themselves, whether knitting a scarf for a classmate, cooking for friends, babysitting or offering moral and professional support. And they embraced affiliates as full members of the class, encouraging several of them to share their own stories during end-of-the-year soundings.

Passionate, curious and eager to soak in all that Harvard and New England had to offer, fellows in the class of 2010 took little time to rest. Throughout the year, they heard from diverse voices — leaders in journalism, history, economics, the sciences, the arts and beyond. Some spoke at Lippmann House. Others were treated to a meal on campus in a casual setting to encourage conversation.

Like many so fellows before them, the 2010 class members participated in annual Nieman traditions such as tea with Harvard's Rev. Peter Gomes, an entertaining, if soggy trip to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox play and a visit to Maine in May for international fellows participating in the Midcoast Forum. The fellows also took full advantage of the foundation’s three writing classes, offered in both the fall and spring semesters.

A Feast of Ideas

Among the many visitors who came to the Nieman Foundation, the fellows heard from such diverse voices as writer and journalist Calvin Trillin; science writer and bestselling author Rebecca Skloot; and Jon Lee Anderson, author and staff writer for The New Yorker. They also met with Noam Chomsky, linguist, political activist and professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT; Harvard professors Michael Sandel, nationally recognized for his "Justice" course and David Gergen, professor of public service and the director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and political commentator for CNN; Diane Paulus, artistic director of American Repertory Theater; and Tom Stites is founder and president of the Banyan Project, which aims to strengthen democracy through high-quality, Web-based journalism.

Other guests included NPR’s president and CEO Vivian Schiller; former U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith who spoke about the many challenges of working and Afghanistan; filmmaker Jon Alpert, who showed clips of his own work to ask difficult questions about the moral dilemmas journalists encounter on the job; Mahzarin Banaji, professor of psychology at Harvard who spoke about the subconscious prejudices we all have; Garrett Graff, editor of Washingtonian Magazine; and Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan, winner of a MacArthur genius grant, just to name a few.

The fellows also learned from a number of media gurus and commentators — from Bill Mitchell (head of the Poynter Institute’s entrepreneurial and international programs), Jay Rosen (author of and NYU journalism professor) and Sree Sreenivasan (dean of student affairs and digital media professor, Columbia Journalism School) — to Rob Curley (editor of the new-media division of the Las Vegas Sun and Greenspun Media Group), Bob Garfield (host of NPR’s “On the Media”), Michael Maness (VP of innovation and design for Gannett Co., Inc.), James Gaines (editor in chief of FLYP online magazine) and Ethan Zuckerman (researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University).

Already eager to reconnect, the class has made plans for a reunion in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2015. Of all the collaborative projects the Nieman Foundation sponsors, the Nieman Fellowship remains the greatest, building bonds that span the world, support important journalism and foster leadership in all media.