The Nieman Foundation regularly brings journalists of all stripes together with leaders in a variety of fields, academics and other experts to collectively explore issues important to the press and the public good. These conferences and workshops generate new ideas about ways to report stories in all media, examine complex issues that are often underreported or misunderstood, and help journalists better engage with their audiences.

Covering Immigration: The Story behind the Politics, Economics and U.S. Law

NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos (left) leads a session with economist Judith K. Gans, Georgetown professor of public policy Harry Holzer and Giovanni Peri, professor of economics at UC Davis »

With generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Nieman Foundation hosted a workshop October 24-26, 2013, for reporters, editors and new media voices who cover immigration.

Designed for those who need to better understand the complex economic, labor and legal issues surrounding the topic, the three-day gathering convened a diverse group of some 50 experienced journalists, economists, labor leaders, law enforcement officials, researchers and academics. One of the journalists, Laura Wides-Muñoz, has covered immigration and Hispanic affairs for the Associated Press and was instrumental in planning the training workshop as an outgrowth of her studies at Harvard while a 2013 Nieman Fellow.

Moving beyond the controversies and political calculations surrounding Washington’s current immigration policy debates, the workshop focused on what is being done to enforce immigration law and what research tells us about the economics of immigration and what is happening to the delicate balance between the need for workers from abroad and the impetus to protect American jobs.

To enable journalists to do more of their own data analyses, the workshop also offered primers on how to dig for stories in large databases, such as those from the U.S. Census Bureau, and on data interpretation and visualization.

Following the training, the Nieman Foundation published a website that features resources including videotaped talks from the conference as well as an extensive list of reports and research papers and other useful material.

Leading economists such as Giovanni Peri from UC Davis and Harry Holzer, former chief economist in the U.S. Department of Labor presented the latest research on the economics of immigration and provided insights into how they and their associates study the topic. Their conversation highlighted the sometimes different interpretations of recent findings, and provided journalists with a set of relevant questions to ask when presented with economic research on the impact of immigration.

The 2013 Georges Conference on College Journalism

Bob Cohn, editor of Atlantic Digital, delivers the keynote address at the Georges conference
More than 70 student journalists from 16 college newspapers participated in the 2013 Georges Conference on College Journalism in April 12-13. The two-day event featured sessions built around the theme “the digital-first newsroom” and were designed to help students accustomed to working primarily in print to embrace the vast possibilities of digital journalism. Talks and workshops were led by Nieman Fellows who shared their expertise, advice and reporting tips.

The opening keynote address, “Old Dog Learns New Tricks – Journalism in the Digital Media Age,” was delivered by Bob Cohn, editor of Atlantic Digital.

On the second day of the conference, sessions included:
  • Lessons from the Digital-First Newsroom with Borja Echevarría, deputy managing editor of El País in Madrid, Spain and a 2013 Nieman-Berkman Fellow in Journalism Innovation
  • Building Digital Beats with Laura Amico, founder and editor of Homicide Watch D.C. and a 2013 Nieman-Berkman Fellow in Journalism Innovation, and Chris Amico, a journalist and Web developer for Homicide Watch D.C. and a 2013 Nieman Affiliate
  • Reporting with Sound with Chris Arnold, a Boston-based NPR correspondent and the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellow in Business Journalism, and Paula Molina, an anchor/editor at Radio Cooperativa in Santiago, Chile and a 2013 Nieman Fellow
  • Video and Multimedia Storytelling with Alexandra Garcia, a multimedia journalist with The Washington Post and a 2013 Nieman Fellow who recently joined The New York Times as a senior video journalist
  • The Reporter-Editor Relationship: The Craft of Storytelling with Jennifer B. McDonald, an editor at The New York Times Book Review and 2013 Nieman Fellow and Betsy O’Donovan, a writer, editor, and mentor-editor for the Op-Ed Project and the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellow in Community Journalism
Student journalists listen while Nieman Fellows present sessions at the Georges conference
The conference was co-sponsored by The Harvard Crimson, under the direction of Crimson President Bobby Samuels. Crimson staffers hosted visiting students on campus and held a dinner for all participants at the end of the conference.

The Nieman Foundation is deeply grateful to the family of journalist Christopher J. Georges for supporting the conference, which provides young journalists with new ideas, skills and resources each year. The foundation is also thankful to the speakers and Crimson volunteers who made the conference such a great success.
Christopher J. Georges Award for Excellence in Student Journalism
Students from The Columbia Daily Spectator celebrate winning the Georges Award with Jerry and Mary Georges, Yaakov Katz, a 2013 Nieman Fellow and award judge, and Gigi Georges.
The Georges Award honors exceptional, in-depth reporting by a student reporter on a policy issue of importance affecting his/her campus, community, or beyond. Judges look for reports that delve beneath the surface of the story and present all sides of its complexities with fairness and accuracy.

The Georges Award aims to encourage and promote the type of journalism Christopher Georges loved best: feature stories that do not simply examine policy making and reform, but explore from a human perspective both the intended and unintended consequences of these policies on the people who are affected by them.

The 2013 Christopher J. Georges Award for Excellence in Student Journalism was presented at the end of the conference to The Columbia Daily Spectator for its 2012 election coverage. The team behind the winning entry included senior staff writers Margaret Mattes, Sammy Roth, Finn Vigeland, Abby Abrams and Casey Tolan, along with Yuma Shinohara who provided graphics.

The award was presented by judge and 2013 Nieman Fellow Yaakov Katz, a military reporter/defense analyst for The Jerusalem Post and correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly.

A runner-up was also recognized: The Daily Princetonian for “1 year after suicide, new details emerge about Calvo’s suspension.” The report was produced by staff writers Anjali Menon and Marcelo Rochabrun together with editor Henry Rome.