Behind the Scenes: Journalism in an Internet Era


I want to tell you how support from generous donors like you makes it possible for us to produce the high-quality journalism that you expect and rely on.

It is no secret that the rise of the Internet has siphoned advertising from newspapers, leaving much of the country in a news desert. How can American democracy work with dramatically fewer journalists covering local government, education, state politics, and the nation writ large?

Several news entrepreneurs—prominent alumni—are pioneering innovative reporting and financial models for the twenty-first century. But how could our small, busy, reporting staff reach out across the country to tell their stories?

Last summer, former Harvard Nieman Fellow, newspaper editor, and digital journalist Mark Travis and I started talking about the problem. He had the background, interest, and a block of spare time—and our freelance budget, provided by generous donors, could cover bare-bones travel expenses and a suitable fee for the feature-length treatment the issue required.

In a literal Planes, Trains, and Automobiles—and interstate buses—adventure, Mark met with the leaders of ProPublica, the investigative-journalism enterprise; The Marshall Project, which covers criminal justice; Report for America, which is bootstrapping community reporting through start-up support for young journalists; Chalkboard, which covers education; and the newly organized American Journalism Project, which aims to identify the best emerging models and bring them to scale across the country.

“Renewing the News,” in the January-February magazine—at the start of a heated election year, when journalistic enterprise and integrity will matter more than ever—is a revealing, comprehensive account of this emerging journalism, with Harvard-educated leaders at the forefront. The outcome won’t look anything like the newspapers of the past, we can be sure—but the potential impact could not be more consequential.

This isn’t the first Harvard Magazine report on journalism and news (see the account below on Gary King’s research on Chinese censorship). With your continued support, it won’t be the last. The stakes are too high, and Harvard’s leadership is too important, to ignore.

Thank you for helping us get the story out.


Read “Renewing
the News