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JSK launches impact partnerships to amplify reach

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Barbara Maseda

The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University today launched a major new initiative, the JSK Impact Partnerships, which will leverage JSK’s connections, its vast alumni network, and access to one of the world’s top universities to accelerate progress in the journalism industry to improve the quality of news and information reaching the public.

The JSK Impact Partnerships will be based on JSK’s four call-to-action themes: challenging misinformation and disinformation; holding the powerful accountable; fighting bias, intolerance and injustice; and strengthening local news.

Eric Sagara
Eric Sagara, a senior data reporter with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, will work with Big Local News as a visiting senior data journalist.

Through its Impact Partnerships, JSK will offer a range of support to efforts that advance the themes: financial assistance, leadership coaching, project advising and relationship building. The partnerships, a new program, will operate in parallel with the JSK Journalism Fellowships, which each year brings up to 20 diverse leaders to Stanford to work on the most urgent problems in journalism.

“JSK Impact Partners, alongside our fellows and our network of more than 1,000 alumni, will represent the ideals of the fellowship in the wider world,” said JSK Director Dawn Garcia. “The partnerships will allow news organizations, journalists and innovators to tap into the journalism expertise we have at Stanford without having to be in residence. JSK Impact Partners will also share their knowledge with our current fellowship class, and they will draw on the expertise our fellows bring to Stanford each year.”

The inaugural JSK Impact Partnerships reflect the breadth of JSK’s call-to-action themes. They include:

  • Big Local News, JSK Local Impact Partner: Big Local News, led by Cheryl Phillips, the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Journalism at Stanford, collects, cleans and shares data so that journalists and researchers can discover and write stories about policies that affect local communities and how institutions are operating. With support from JSK, Eric Sagara, a senior data reporter with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, will work with Big Local News as a visiting senior data journalist for the 2018-2019 academic year. In this role, Sagara will take the lead in standardizing and analyzing data from localities across the country for Big Local News. He will help guide the process of training newsrooms to use the data and to use “story recipes” to create compelling narratives for their local communities. A public-facing website will provide an easy interface for journalists to select and download data as well as upload and share data they may collect. The site will feature tutorials from journalists who have successfully used the data. Sagara will also conduct workshops for local journalists in the coming year to help them make the best use of data in their reporting. “This support helps fill a critical gap for Big Local News,” Phillips said. “It also deepens our relationship with JSK at a time when collaboration is vital to the future of journalism.”
  • News Foundry, JSK Local Impact Partner: News Foundry is a three-day workshop scheduled for Nov. 16-18 in Philadelphia that seeks to provide people working in journalism with the skills they need to build viable local news businesses. JSK alumni Burt Herman, JSK ’09, Julie Makinen, JSK ’17, and Phillip Smith, JSK ’18, are helping lead the effort. Several other JSK alumni are coaching participants. JSK’s support for News Foundry will fund the creation of profiles of the teams that participate in the weekend workshop and will help create and disseminate videos of the experience to share the knowledge with people who are unable to attend.
  • Toolkit for Journalists of Color, JSK Diversity Impact Partner: The toolkit provides journalists of color with website resources and a physical card deck to help them recruit allies in news organizations, and provides them with strategies to cope with working in predominantly white newsrooms. The effort is a project spearheaded by three members of the JSK Class of 2018, Jennifer Dargan, Michael Grant and Seema Yasmin.
  • Project Inventario, JSK Accountability Impact Partner: Project Inventario is an open data initiative led by Barbara Maseda, JSK ’18, to collaborate with journalists working inside Cuba who are unable to access data and information for their stories due to government restrictions in the island nation. The project provides journalists in Cuba with data sets through a web portal optimized for their use.

Pam Maples, JSK managing director, recruitment, will supervise the JSK Impact Partnerships, with the support of Garcia and Michael Bolden, JSK managing director, communications.

“Our goal is to ensure that more people are receiving quality news and information that allows them to participate in democracy in their communities,” Maples said. “We’re opening up the resources of our program to a wider audience at a time when journalism needs more people exploring solutions to the challenges that confront our profession and our society.”

If you’re interested in becoming a JSK Impact Partner, or in helping to support the program with funding and other resources, please contact JSK at