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Columbia Set To Launch Digital Journalism Center

columbia logo.jpgRecognizing the importance of digital journalism to the future of the industry, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism today announced that it had raised $15 million to launch a new center focusing on just that.

The J-school has finally met a requirement to match a $5 million contribution from The Tow Foundation, setting the stage to establish the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Manhattan university. In making its gift in 2008, The Tow Foundation required Columbia to collect an additional $10 million from other sources within two years. This goal was completed with ten gifts, the school said today.

Now, with the funding goals met, Columbia is starting the search for a director to run the center. “The new director, who will serve as a faculty member, will be involved in teaching graduate students; executing and overseeing original scholarly research; collaborating with and studying news organizations; developing and testing new models for creating and delivering information, along with business innovations to support those models; and advising on how to raise additional funds through research and program grants,” the school explained.

Update: Columbia J-School dean of academic affairs Bill Grueskin tells FishbowlNY that he’s hoping to hire a director for the digital journalism center by June 30, after which the center will start to take a more definitive shape. “We want and expect the new director to have some significant latitude in how the Center will fulfill its educational and research missions,” he said.

Full release after the jump


Columbia Journalism School Raises $15 Million to Help Establish New Tow Center for Digital Journalism

School Meets Matching Requirement to Fulfill $5 Million Funding Commitment from The Tow Foundation Made in 2008; School Launches Search for Center Director

New York, NY (Jan. 11, 2010) — Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism today announces that it has completed a $10 million match to help establish the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. This amount fulfills the requirements established by The Tow Foundation, which in February 2008 made a $5 million pledge to create a center dedicated to the teaching and research of professional journalism in digital and emerging media at the Journalism School.

The Foundation stipulated that its gift be matched by an additional $10 million from other sources within 24 months. The Journalism School met this goal with ten gifts, primarily from individuals, to support curriculum development and research, fellowships, faculty salaries, and operating expenses for the Center.

“We at the Graduate School of Journalism are profoundly grateful to the Tow family and to all the other supporters who have responded to their challenge by helping us to launch this important endeavor,” said Dean Nicholas Lemann. “At a time when our profession is undergoing fundamental change, these commitments will make it possible for the Journalism School to maximize the leadership role it has played ever since Joseph Pulitzer’s establishing gift back in 1903.”

With the matching requirement complete, Columbia’s Journalism School is now moving quickly to bring the vision of The Tow Foundation to fruition, first with an international search for the Center’s director. The new director, who will serve as a faculty member, will be involved in teaching graduate students; executing and overseeing original scholarly research; collaborating with and studying news organizations; developing and testing new models for creating and delivering information, along with business innovations to support those models; and advising on how to raise additional funds through research and program grants.

The Tow funding, along with gifts from its matching donors, provides the critical resources for the Journalism School to expand and build upon the recent curriculum initiatives that are already an integral part of the School’s academic programs to prepare students with much-needed skills in digital media reporting and production. The Journalism School is currently seeking additional funding to support the Center.

“With the establishment of the Tow Center, we expect to gain a more substantial understanding of how news media are evolving, particularly in the ways journalism is created, read, seen and shared online,” said Bill Grueskin, dean of academic affairs. “Our goal is to take this research and use it both to bolster the curriculum for our students and to provide data and insight the industry needs to prosper.”

The Center’s primary mission will be to help provide the next generation of journalists with the skills and knowledge to lead professional journalism. The Center will devise and publicize innovative methods of digital reporting and presentation, to serve both established and new media companies. And, the Center will explore interactions between journalists and citizens, particularly as readers seek ways to judge the reliability, standards and credibility in media.

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