Cox Center Launches New Project with Hewlett Foundation Support To Integrate Findings of Evaluations of Midcareer Journalism Training

Researchers in the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia have launched a new project to integrate existing research on the impact of journalism training programs on working journalists.

The project is being funded by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to the Cox Center, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. The Hewlett Foundation is based in Menlo Park, California.

A variety of “midcareer” training programs are available in the U.S. to journalists, most of whom work for domestic news organizations. Journalists who participate in these programs are expected to acquire new skills and expertise to allow them to better perform the work, gain stature in the newsroom, and advance their careers.

Relatively little is known about the impact do these training programs on the work of the journalists, on the organizations for which they work, on journalistic practice generally, or on the audiences of the messages the journalists produce.

The new project is designed to allow Cox Center researches, who have considerable experience in evaluation of these programs, to integrate the findings from their own studies and the work of others and provide guidelines for development of such programs in the future.

The Hewlett Foundation is particularly interested in knowing what kinds of programs exists to help American journalists better understand and report on events outside the U.S. borders. A secondary goal of the one-year project is to provide Hewlett with a map of programs with this primary or secondary goal.

As part of the project, the Cox Center will survey the directors of training programs for journalists operated in the U.S. to determine the nature of the training, the characteristics of those trained by them, and the findings from any evaluations undertaken.

A survey will identify any existing training programs that focus on U.S. media coverage of global issues, will suggest how they can be improved, will make recommendations about future coordination among these programs, and will determine whether new programs are needed.

“The Cox Center offers training for working journalists from around the world,” Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox Center, said. “It is important for us to understand what types of programs are effective.”

Dr. Becker said the project with the Hewlett Foundation allows the Center to continue its efforts to provide a leadership role in evaluation of journalism training programs and also addresses the need of U.S. journalists for training on the increasingly complex events around the world.

“We’re delighted to be have this support from Hewlett for this project,” Dr. Becker said.

The Cox Center conducts training programs around the world on a variety of topics as part of its goal of providing assistance in the development of free and independent media, particularly in emerging democracies. The Center also hosts journalists for programs of varying length in the Center.

The grant from the Hewlett Foundation is for $33,000. The project will be completed in December of 2005.