Scholarship Enables Computer Programmers to Earn Master’s Degree in Journalism

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By: Press Release | Northwestern University

EVANSTON, Ill. — The Washington Post will be the first news industry partner in a scholarship program enabling computer programmers to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications followed by a paid internship at the prestigious newspaper.

The Washington Post joins the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in supporting the scholarship program, which has allowed nine people with computer programming backgrounds to earn a master of science in journalism degree since 2008. All nine are now working in jobs that allow them to apply their understanding of both journalism and computer science.

“Programmers who understand journalism offer a unique skillset that is an essential part of building new tools and features that can benefit both readers and reporters,” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor for strategic projects at The Post. “Two examples of this innovative work include The Post’s I Voted news app and The Grid, which enhanced our coverage of the presidential election last year.”

“As a journalist who works with developers on a regular basis, I know how incredibly valuable this dual understanding can be in the newsroom,” said Mitch Rubin, Washington Post sports production editor, who will assist in administering the program.

With the combined support of the Knight Foundation and The Post, computer programmers will receive financial aid covering the full cost of tuition in Medill’s 12-month MSJ program. In addition, after graduation, scholarship winners will be guaranteed a paid internship at The Post.
“I am very pleased that The Washington Post is our first partner in this innovative program with Medill and the Knight Foundation,” said Brad Hamm, dean of Medill. “We appreciate their entrepreneurial spirit, and we look forward to working with additional news organizations to join us in making this investment in the future of journalism.”

Northwestern and The Post announced the new partnership at the Computation + Journalism Symposium ( at Georgia Institute of Technology. The symposium, which brings together journalists and computer scientists to explore interdisciplinary projects, ends today (Feb. 1).

The initial Knight Foundation grant of $639,000 in 2007 provided tuition assistance for developers studying journalism at Medill but did not include the participation of industry partners. The industry partnership program added this year is intended to further increase interest in journalism among computer programmers.

Among previous scholarship winners are Brian Boyer, who directs the news applications team at National Public Radio; Ryan Mark, director of digital product strategy and development at Chicago Tribune Media Group; Manya Gupta, Web technical editor for; Steven Melendez of the data news team at WNYC, public radio station in New York; and Shane Shifflett, data engineer at the Center for Investigative Reporting.

More information about the scholarship program is available at

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