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Nieman Innovation

As the Nieman Foundation and Nieman Fellows continue to seek ways to deal with the rapid transformation of journalism in the digital age, two clear coping strategies have emerged: adaptation and innovation. While journalists, especially those who work in print, have suffered severe consequences in recent years due to changes in the marketplace, fresh opportunities are starting to emerge in new media and through new business models. While the delivery channels for journalism may change over time, best practices will not. The need for exceptional reporting and stories well told remains as vital as ever.

New Ideas in Action


  • In the fall of 2009, the Nieman Foundation introduced a yearlong curriculum for fellows designed to teach multimedia skills, online tools for reporting and new business strategies for news. Many sessions have been led by Nieman Journalism Lab Director Joshua Benton, a 2008 Nieman Fellow. Guest lecturers and instructors have included Doug Mitchell, former project manager for Next Generation Radio, Mara Schiavocampo, digital correspondent for "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams," documentary filmmakers Judith Vecchione and Llew Smith and international photojournalist Thorne Anderson, a 2009 Nieman affiliate.

  • The foundation also introduced the Fellows’ Forum, an online community for Nieman alumni that helps fellows connect with each other, share news and ideas, post job leads and seek information and advice. The site serves both the social and professional needs of the fellows as they commiserate about career challenges and explore ways to collaborate on new ventures.

  • The Nieman Journalism Lab reports on the many changes taking place in journalism, exploring the ways that technology is changing newsrooms today and uncovering the stories of new media breakthroughs. The Lab shares that information through the same social media and digital channels it reports on, providing daily updates to everyone interested in the future of journalism in all its many forms.

  • Online, Nieman programs including Nieman Reports, Nieman Watchdog, the Nieman Narrative Digest and Nieman Storyboard are reaching out to their audiences with expanded multimedia reports and are forging new working relationships with like-minded organizations and contributors. Visitors to the sites can sign up for RSS feeds, follow progress through our Twitter accounts, join our Facebook groups or search through aggregated articles of interest from across the Web. More information about each program’s outreach efforts is available in the “Programs & Publications” section of this report.

  • In October 2009, just before President Obama declared the H1N1 swine flu pandemic a national emergency, the Nieman Foundation launched an online guide for journalists covering pandemic flu. With carefully vetted information from health reporters and infectious disease specialists, useful links, lists of resources and a glossary, the guide provides one-stop shopping for reporters covering pandemic flu and those who seek to better understand it. The guide grew out of ideas presented during the 2006 Nieman conference “The Next Big Health Crisis and How to Cover It.”

  • Occasionally, we take a very old fashioned approach to innovation, bringing disparate groups together to generate new ideas through conferences on pressing journalism issues. The resulting dialogues have generated many new ways to approach some of the thorniest issues facing journalists today. Two prime examples are our conferences “Aftermath: Journalism, storytelling, and the impact of violence and tragedy” and “Working with Victims of Crime: Building Trust, Seeking Justice, Staying Sane.”