Previous Directors

James R. BettingerJames R. Bettinger

Director, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, 2000-2016

Graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Worked in daily newspapers for 20 years as a reporter, editorial writer and editor at the Riverside Press-Enterprise and the San Jose Mercury News. Writing and editing consultant and speaker, beginning in the late 1980s with Knight Ridder. Regular columnist for the San Jose Mercury News Sunday magazine, 1990-1996.

The Fellowship in the Bettinger years: Bettinger launched new initiatives to increase the impact of the program, including News Innovation Workshops for legacy news organizations and for JSK alumni. Founding chair of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Internship Committee. Read several thousand fellowship applications and participated in about a thousand JSK fellowship interviews.

James RisserJames Risser

Director, John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowships, 1985-2000

His entire journalism career was with The Des Moines Register and Tribune, most of it in its Washington Bureau, where he won Pulitzer Prizes for National Reporting in 1976 and 1979. When he retired from the Knight Fellowships, grateful alumni created the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism.

The Fellowship in the Risser years: Risser’s charter was to make the Knight Fellowships the pre-eminent journalism program in the land. During his tenure the profile of the program was raised on campus and in the wider world of journalism. Advertising, outreach and recruiting at conferences was expanded.

Lyle NelsonLyle Nelson

Director, Professional Journalism Fellowships & John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowships, 1969-1985

Nelson was briefly a reporter in Portland before World War II intervened. After the war he moved into higher education, first at the University of Oregon and then at San Francisco State College. He came to Stanford from the University of Michigan, where he was vice president for university relations.

The Fellowship in the Nelson years: Nelson is the father of the journalism fellowships at Stanford. He raised the initial money from the Ford Foundation and had planned to be the original director, but was too busy as an assistant to Stanford President Wallace Sterling. He shepherded the program through its toddlerhood, its teenage years and its first year as the John S. Knight Fellowships.

Herbert BruckerHerbert Brucker

Director, Professional Journalism Fellowships, 1966-1969

Before he came to Stanford, Brucker was editor of the Hartford Courant, generally acknowledged as the country’s oldest continuously published newspaper. He was president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1963-64, and a vigorous champion of press freedom

The Fellowship in the Brucker years: A real startup adventure, in the words of fellows and directors. Brucker didn’t arrive at Stanford until June of 1966 and the program didn’t move into Cypress Hall until mid-September. Everything was new, everything had to be invented or reinvented.