By: Joe Strupp

Major Moves Mapped For Journalism Think Tank

When Jean Gaddy Wilson leaves New Directions for News (NDN) this
spring, the journalism think tank she founded 13 years ago will not
only be seeking a new executive director, but possibly a new home.
After more than a decade at the University of Missouri, the nonprofit
organization may be looking for a new location when Wilson retires in

‘The main draw to being in Columbia [Mo.] was Jean,’ says Vivian
Vahlberg, director of journalism programs for the Robert R. McCormick
Tribune Foundation, NDN’s largest single funding source. ‘That’s where
Jean was located. They are looking to go elsewhere, and if they can
find a suitable place, it is my understanding that they will continue.’

Mindi Kiernan, a member of the NDN board of directors, says changes are
in the offing but that no final decisions have been made. ‘We’re
looking for a place that could grow and develop, with a passion for
innovation and excitement, and a place that may already have some kind
of program in place,’ Kiernan says. ‘We have not precluded anything. We
are very early in the process, and we have many factors to consider.’

NDN is known for hosting a number of annual journalism events that
focus on making news more relevant to society. Among those that have
drawn praise are its round-table discussions, diversity-awareness
programs, and global-leadership events. The most recent series of
round-tables, which ended in December, spanned 18 months and included
211 participants from 35 companies.

Wilson, the only executive director NDN has had since it opened in
1987, announced earlier this month that she would be leaving her post
June 1. She stresses the need for the organization to continue without

‘NDN is more important than ever as communications systems evolve media
into a globally connected system,’ Wilson says. ‘This rapid evolution
requires us to continue to develop a more robust journalism to support

Vahlberg, whose foundation has given an annual $450,000 grant to NDN
since 1988, also urges that the center keep going, citing its fresh
approach and unique perspective on journalism issues. ‘It really takes
a look over the horizon,’ Vahlberg says. ‘It gets outside of the daily
news and business-as-usual to see the connection between other worlds
and the news business.’

Vahlberg says the McCormick Tribune Foundation would be interested in
future funding for NDN, but only after reviewing its new executive
director and new home base location. ‘If it can get reconstituted in a
new place, with a new director and a program we have confidence in, we
could continue,’ she says. ‘We have to see what happens. We don’t know

Kiernan says a new executive director would be chosen only after the
program’s future permanent site is found.


Joe Strupp ( )
is associate editor for Editor & Publisher magazine.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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