Merrill Brown Named National Director of Carnegie-Knight’s ‘News21’ J-School Initiative

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By: Jennifer Saba

The Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education has appointed Merrill Brown national editorial director of News for the 21st Century: Incubators of New Ideas, also known as ‘News21,’ E&P learned today.

The initiative announced in May brings together five universities – Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, University of California (Berkeley), and the University of Southern California – to revitalize journalism programs with experimental curriculum and practical experience.

News 21 is part of the larger program that will give students the opportunity to produce content for media outlets. Students will spend spring semesters studying a specific topic. During the summer, about 44 students from the five universities will participate in News 21 for 10 weeks, starting in June 2006. They will each receive a stipend of $7,500.

Each university will “own a topic” said Brown, explaining for example, that U.C. Berkeley could cover issues surrounding the Pacific Rim. New topics will be assigned every year. The idea is for students to work on a subject using creative and innovative ways to produce stories while working with media companies.

“There is a great search going on about what the business model is for news,” said Brown. “We’re hoping to give some really good thought to that.”

As national editorial director, Brown will work with faculty, students, and media companies, essentially creating a content distribution system. Each university will cover a specific medium.

?Merrill?s breadth of experience in traditional and new media makes him the ideal candidate to lead this experimental educational effort,? said Susan King, vice president, public affairs of Carnegie Corporation of New York, who will also serve as the National Director for the larger initiative, in a statement. ?He has contributed to the planning of the initiative and his experience and insights will add immeasurably to the success the universities hope to achieve with professional news organizations.?

Brown is the principle and founder of media consulting firm MMB Media. He has worked as a business correspondent for The Washington Post and as editor in chief of Channels Magazine. Brown also was a founder of Court TV and in 1996, he became the founding editor in chief of MSNBC.com. He currently lives in Seattle but will relocate to New York in July.

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