The Year in Review

In 2012, the Nieman Foundation continued to respond to changes in the news business by offering fellows a new slate of more focused programming, opening its doors to new guests both at Lippmann House and digitally, and by continuing to reach out in print, online and through social media to share information about journalism innovation and best practices with a global audience.

Google's Richard Gingras at the Nieman Foundation in May

If one theme emerged more loudly than any other this year it was disruption. Google’s head of news products, Richard Gingras, spoke about “Innovation in an Age of Disruption” in May; 2012 Nieman Fellow David Skok and Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen collaborated on a Nieman Reports cover story encouraging those wishing to succeed in journalism to “Be the Disruptor”; and the new Nieman- Berkman Fellows are examining how disruption innovation is changing newsrooms and what lessons can be learned from that.

Responding to journalism’s digital evolution, we also added a new short-term Visiting Fellowship opportunity for individuals wishing to research a project that can enhance journalism in some new way.

2012 was also a year of increased collaboration – of Nieman co-sponsoring events with groups and schools at Harvard, Nieman Fellows sharing their expertise at a variety of venues on campus and beyond; and Nieman staff finding new ways to partner with journalists and journalism organizations to find new solutions to the challenges facing the news industry. Nieman publications are also working more closely together to cover stories from different angles and in different media.

Brian Mandell's negotiation workshop for the 2013 Nieman Fellows

Nieman events included a rich array of speakers and workshops and more informal chats with a long list of favorite Harvard instructors including professor of music Thomas Kelly, who teaches the popular “First Nights” course on music appreciation, and James Wood, professor of literary criticism and staff writer and book critic for The New Yorker who has introduced many fellows to the joy of reading fine literature; thought leaders like Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow and Kennedy School professor and economist Lawrence Summers; news executives like NPR’s CEO Gary Knell and Mark Scott, managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; and master classes with pros like Frontline’s deputy executive producer Raney Aronson and director of the Kennedy School Negotiation Project Brian Mandell, who taught a negotiation workshop tailored exclusively for Nieman Fellows.

Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow

Economist and University Professor Lawrence Summers with 2012 Nieman Fellows

The Nieman community also heard the concerns of visitors from overseas including Ahmet Altan, editor-in-chief of Turkey’s leading newspaper Taraf and Georg Mascolo, editor-in-chief of Germany’s Der Spiegel and Egyptian journalist Shahira Amin, a contributor to CNN.

Just a few of the many others who shared their ideas this past year were Junot Diaz, prize-winning author and writing professor at MIT; Diane Paulus, director of Harvard’s American Repertory Theater; and cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco, who was joined in conversation by Chris Hedges, a 1999 Nieman Fellow.

Cartoonist Joe Sacco explains his craft 

Although each Nieman class is unique and each year brings change to Lippmann House, certain things remain constant for fellows in the Nieman program: new knowledge gained through Harvard classes and Nieman programming; the valuable contacts made on campus with professors, students, staff and others; the gift of time to explore and to experiment and above all, the enduring friendships made with classmates who teach and nurture one another.

As 2013 approaches and we prepare for Nieman’s 75th anniversary and alumni reunion next September, it’s natural to look back at all that the foundation has achieved since 1938. But in doing so, we look to the future to plan new ways to collaborate, to innovate and to be the disruptor for a brighter journalism future.

Frontline's deputy executive producer Raney Aronson with 2013 fellow Alexandra Garcia

Gary Knell, CEO of NPR

Diane Paulus, of Harvard's American Repertory Theater

James Wood, professor of literary criticism, at a Nieman lunch talk

Author Junot Diaz speaks to a full house in April

Thomas Kelly, Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music, kicks off the fall 2012 Nieman seminar series