Advisory Board

A message from the Board President

More than 15 years after journalism began feeling the effects of the digital
Bill Wheatley
revolution, the pace of change in our craft only accelerates: journalism on cell phones, journalism on Twitter, journalism on tablets. Things are moving fast and there seems to be an almost limitless range of new platforms, new practitioners and new possibilities.

Amid all this evolution, those who care deeply about journalism await the answer to a critical question: Will the journalism that eventually emerges inform and enlighten or will it somehow fall short of society’s needs?

The Nieman Foundation, of course, has more than a passing interest in this. Having long stood for journalism that is meticulous and meritorious, its mission is focused increasingly on doing all that it can to help guarantee that high-quality journalism not only survives but prospers.

As Ann Marie Lipinski assumes her role as curator, the foundation continues to take seriously and pursue aggressively Agnes Wahl Nieman’s straightforward mandate to “promote and elevate the standards of journalism.” It does this not only through its fruitful tradition of bringing outstanding journalists to Harvard for a year of study and growth, but also through a wide and increasing range of other activities.

One of these, the digital Nieman Journalism Lab, has in just three years become the number-one place for news and analysis of the innovation – technological and editorial – that is changing the face of what we do. Under director Joshua Benton, the Lab’s readership has grown to the point where more people access it over the course of a month than use the websites of some sizeable newspapers. If you have yet to sample the Lab, by all means do so.

You also might want to take a look at the websites of Nieman Reports, Nieman Watchdog and Nieman Storyboard. Each makes a contribution to the ongoing conversation about the changes in journalism and each offers ideas on how to improve the state of the art.

These outreach programs and a growing array of conferences, seminars and partnerships have placed the Nieman Foundation in the vanguard of efforts to maintain and foster high standards of journalism both in the United States and around the world. This will not be a short-term project, but it is one that the foundation is particularly well equipped to pursue.

I’m happy to say that the Nieman Advisory Board has been very much involved in these efforts, drawing on the experience and insight of its diverse membership to offer suggestions and recommendations to the curator and staff.

It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve for the past five years as the Advisory Board’s president. As I wrap up my duties, I am more convinced than ever that what the Nieman Foundation does is not only worthwhile but also highly important. I urge you to support its good work in every way that you can.

William O. Wheatley Jr.
1977 Nieman Fellow