Year in Review
Through its fellowships at Harvard University, extensive programming and influential publications, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism in 2015 continued to fulfill its mission to educate journalists and promote and elevate the standards of journalism.
Taking the lead in coverage of the journalism community were Nieman Lab and its forward-looking reporting on media innovation; Nieman Reports’ exploration of urgent industry issues, such as a comprehensive cover package on race and reporting; and Nieman Storyboard’s ongoing examination of the best nonfiction storytelling.
Our publications explored many of the ways newsroom leaders and innovators are responding to changes in journalism, from the growing importance of mobile platforms, automation in the newsroom and data journalism to the popularity of podcasts and virtual reality storytelling.
Nieman also hosted dozens of speakers ranging from Alex Miller of Vice to Melissa Bell of Vox, who shared ideas and new strategies for creating and publishing content across digital channels.
In April we expanded the scope of our annual Christopher J. Georges Conference on College Journalism, inviting students from across the United States to network with their peers and take part in journalism workshops and breakout sessions led by Nieman journalists and other news professionals. Jill Abramson, former executive editor at The New York Times, gave the keynote address.
In October, Abramson returned to Nieman to speak with Nieman Fellows and a group of visiting Women’s Leadership Fellows and USA Fellows from the Eisenhower Fellowships program.
In May, we co-hosted Covering Campaigns: A conference for journalists reporting on the 2016 presidential election with the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The two-day event brought many of the nation’s top political strategists together with journalists to discuss reporting on politics in the age of digital media.
Recognizing the value of Nieman’s short-term fellowships, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded the foundation a $223,000 grant in support of the Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowships. The program brings journalists, technologists, academics and other news innovators to Harvard to develop projects to advance journalism.
Nieman is one of several national organizations that will host events in 2016 to celebrate the 100th awarding of the Pulitzer Prize. The foundation is planning a weekend of events in September 2016 featuring Pulitzer Prize winners in conversation, storytelling and performance that will focus on the theme Power: Accountability and Abuse.
As a new year approaches, we are committed to monitoring the changing landscape of journalism in support of the work of journalists everywhere. Follow us in 2016 as we continue to report on the latest industry news, trends and best practices for engaging, meaningful reporting.
Exploring a World of Ideas
The Nieman Foundation hosts dozens of events each semester that bring leading scholars, industry experts and award-winning journalists to campus for shop talks and seminars that educate not only Nieman Fellows and invited guests, but the wider journalism community through our reports, videos and podcasts.
These leading thinkers, including scientists, historians, economists, policy makers, artists, writers and others working in a wide range of disciplines, discuss the creative ways they approach their work.
2015 Seminar Speakers
Jessica Stern, terrorism expert and author with J.M. Berger of “ISIS: The State of Terror in the Name of God”
- Stephen Burt, poet, literary critic and professor of English at Harvard University
- Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, sociologist, author and Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University
- Jonathan Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard Divinity School and Pusey Minister in Harvard’s Memorial Church
- Peter Davis, award-winning filmmaker and author (2008 Nieman Affiliate)
Rohit Deshpandé, Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School
- Jill Johnson, dance director, Office for the Arts at Harvard
- Carol Oja, William Powell Mason Professor of Music; chair of the department of music and faculty in the graduate program in American Studies at Harvard
- Rosalind Picard, professor of media arts and sciences, MIT
- Heather Hendershot, professor of film and media, MIT
- Katie Hinde, assistant professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard and author of the blog Mammals Suck… Milk!
Arthur Kleinman, Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of anthropology at Harvard University; professor of medical anthropology in the university’s department of global health and social medicine; and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
- Jennifer Roberts, professor of art history and the humanities, Harvard
- Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, Nieman certificate ceremony speaker
- Noam Chomsky linguistics professor emeritus at MIT, author and activist
Gary King, Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard and director of the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science
- Ethan Zuckerman, director, MIT Center for Civic Media
- Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
- Sherry Turkle, professor in the program in science, technology, and society at MIT and author of “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age”
- Randall Kennedy, Michael R. Klein Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Beth Altringer, lecturer on innovation and design, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
- Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School
- Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard
An Incubator for Journalism
In addition to Nieman seminars, the foundation hosts a series of shop talks, master classes and workshops throughout the year. Guests discuss newsroom innovation, business models, audience engagement, analytics, social media best practices, storytelling techniques for digital platforms and much more.
2015 Shop talk Speakers
Jay Lauf, publisher and president of Quartz
- Hasan Cemal, Turkish journalist and 2015 Lyons Award winner
- Cory Haik, executive director of emerging news products at The Washington Post
- Richard Tofel, president of ProPublica
- Evan Hansen, editorial director of Medium
Klaus Brinkbäumer, editor of Der Spiegel
- Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York who led a social media tune-up class
- Bill Marimow, NF ’83, editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, in conversation with daughter Ann Marimow, NF ’15, legal affairs reporter at The Washington Post
- Evan Smith, editor-in-chief, The Texas Tribune
- Peter Slevin, journalist and author of “Michelle Obama: A Life”
- Ludovic Blecher, NF ’13, head of the Innovation Fund for Google’s Digital News Initiative in France, discussing “Google and the European Media” via Skype
David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer at The Washington Post and author of “The Good Soldiers” and “Thank You for Your Service”
- Alex Miller, head of global content for Vice
- Jill Abramson, former New York Times executive editor
- Nabil Wakim, NF ’15, director of editorial innovation at Le Monde, 2015 Nieman Affiliate Audrey Cerdan a digital journalist for the French magazine L’Obs, and J.M. Berger, a terrorism and international security expert, who discussed the November 2016 terrorist attacks in Paris
- Melissa Bell, co-founder, Vox.com
Nieman Fellows additionally arranged a number of more informal talks with people visiting Harvard including:
Iranian journalist Nazila Fathi, a 2011 Nieman and author of “The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran,” in conversation with Farnaz Fassihi, a 2015 Nieman Fellow. Farnaz also moderated a talk with New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.
- A digital security workshop with Nathan Freitas, open-source project leader, developer and activist with The Guardian Project, organized by 2015 Nieman-Berkman Fellow Miguel Paz
- Academic, author and activist Noam Chomsky, in conversation with 2015 Nieman Vladimir Radomirovic
- Carla Denny Martin, Harvard lecturer on chocolate, race and the politics of food, organized by 2015 Nieman Gabe Bullard
- Jonny Waldman, author of “Rust” organized by 2015 Nieman-Berkman Fellow Maggie Koerth-Baker. Conversation moderated by 2015 Nieman Fellow Celeste LeCompte
Heidi Tworek, lecturer on the history of news, Harvard University, organized by Celeste LeCompte, NF ’15
- Molly Crabapple, artist and writer, in conversation with Laurie Penny, a 2015 Nieman
- A LinkedIn for journalists tutorial with Yumi Wilson, associate professor of journalism at San Francisco State and a trainer for LinkedIn, organized by 2015 Nieman Alicia Stewart
- Raheel Khursheed, Twitter’s head of news, politics and government in India, in conversation with 2014 Nieman-Berkman Fellow Hasit Shah, currently a full-time Berkman Fellow at Harvard
Training for a profession in flux
Fellows in 2015 benefited from a series of hands-on training sessions and master classes taught by leading practitioners and current Nieman Fellows and alumni. Topics included digital storytelling; data visualization; encryption; social media and audience development; book publishing; smartphone photography; and audio and video production. Fellows and affiliates also planned and taught a number of peer-to-peer sessions, sharing their expertise with classmates, which are listed in our fellowship section.
As in previous years, Brian Mandell, senior lecturer in public policy and director of the Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project, taught a negotiation workshop designed specially for the Nieman Fellows.
Nieman in the Community
Each year, the Nieman Foundation collaborates with centers and groups at Harvard to co-sponsor and host a number of public events.
With Harvard Book Store, Nieman co-sponsored book talks by author Salman Rushdie, who read from his new novel “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” and was introduced by 2016 Nieman Fellow Tim de Gier; journalist Bob Woodward, who discussed his new book “The Last of the President’s Men”; and John Norris, executive director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at American Progress, who spoke about his book “Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism.”
In April, Nieman co-sponsored a Harvard Writers at Work event with cartoonist Jeff Danziger, who presented and discussed the documentary film “Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy.”
Nieman speakers at the 2015 Herbert C. Kelman Seminars on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution included
- 2015 Nieman Fellow Farnaz Fassihi, from The Wall Street Journal who discussed “What happens to media coverage of conflicts after everyone leaves?” with Boston University professor of diplomatic practice Robert G. Loftis, a retired foreign service officer
- Irina Gordienko, a 2015 Nieman and correspondent for Novaya Gazeta in Russia, who joined Vera Mironova, a graduate research fellow at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School to talk about “The Conflict in Ukraine and How it is Portrayed in the Media”
- 2015 Nieman Fellow Celeste LeCompte, cofounder of Climate Confidential and newly named director of business development at ProPublica, who participated in “Climate Change Negotiations: What Can We Learn from the U.S.-China Agreement?” with Michael B. McElroy, the Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at Harvard
- Vladimir Radomirovic, a 2015 Nieman and founder and editor-in-chief of Pistaljka, an online investigative news outlet in Serbia, who discussed “Corruption: The Unaddressed Elephant on the Global Stage” with William English, the research director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
Documentary photographer and 2016 Nieman Andrea Bruce, who spoke with Donna Hicks, an associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs about “Syria Unseen: Living under the Siege”
- Photographer and 2016 Nieman Anastasia Taylor-Lind showed a video project on the war in the Ukraine that she developed at Harvard during a session on the topic of “War Changes Everyone” with Susan Hackley, managing director of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
The Kelman seminars are sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in collaboration with the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and Boston area members of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. The theme for the 2015-2016 Kelman Seminar series is “Negotiation, Conflict and the News Media.”
In April, Nieman and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society co-hosted the talk “Technology and Journalism in Cuba: Deconstructing the ‘Cuban Spring’ Fantasy” with Cuban journalist and 2015 Nieman Fellow Elaine Díaz Rodríguez and Ellery Biddle, a Berkman Fellow at Harvard and advocacy director at Global Voices.
In October, Nieman hosted a book talk by 2004 Nieman Masha Gessen, presented with Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She discussed her book “The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy” about the Tsarnaev brothers, who built and detonated bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.
Also in October, Nieman presented “Made in Boston: Stories of Invention and Innovation,” evening of storytelling with seven of the area’s best journalists, authors and innovators that was moderated by author and Nieman writing instructor Steve Almond at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. The presentation was part of HUBweek, a series of events and experiences to celebrate locally generated ideas. Tom Ashbrook, NF ’96, the host of the nationally syndicated radio program On Point; Ben Mezrich, the best-selling author of “The Accidental Billionaires”; Joi Ito, head of MIT’s Media Lab; Kara Miller, host and executive editor of the nationally syndicated radio show Innovation Hub; Judy Norsigian, co-founder of the Boston-based Our Bodies, Ourselves collective that revolutionized women’s healthcare; journalist and feminist Laurie Penny, NF ’15; and the award-winning Boston Globe technology columnist Hiawatha Bray. The Nieman event was presented in conjunction with HUBweek organizers, with support from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and The Boston Globe.
Nieman hosted our annual “Ignite” event in the fall featuring speakers from seven of the fellowship programs at Harvard and MIT. 2016 Nieman Fellow and New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant represented the foundation with his talk “The Art of Humor (Or How to Win The New Yorker Caption Contest in 137 Easy Steps).”