Journalism Professors Land "Summer Internships" at Digitally Savvy Newsrooms

Mar 242014
  • The Back In the Newsroom Fellowship will help journalism educators see firsthand the new skills needed for students to succeed in today’s newsrooms.

Faculty from historically black universities will spend the summer as "Back in the Newsroom" Fellows, honing digital skills, sharing expertise, and bolstering opportunities for students

Washington, D.C. - In a new fellowship program called "Back in the Newsroom," five professors from historically black colleges and universities will spend a summer working at digitally advanced U.S. news organizations. This "internship" will help journalism educators see firsthand the new skills needed for students to succeed in today's newsrooms.

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) will run the program, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The fellows will update their digital skills, develop cutting-edge curricula and strengthen relations between these newsrooms and their schools. The program will help improve diversity at leading U.S. newsrooms by forging pipelines to promising students.

"This is a triple win for journalism," said David Callaway, editor-in-chief of USA Today. "The professors win by sharpening their skills to meet today's digital news pace. The newsrooms win by getting an outside and diverse perspective on news coverage. And ultimately the students win from both." USA Today is one of five major media organizations that will host the fellows this year.

"Professors need to be at the forefront of the movement to modernize journalism education," said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation's vice president of journalism and media innovation. "This program allows them to do just that–providing the skills and insights to lead students into the newsrooms of the 21st century."

The fellows will spend the summer at the Los Angeles Times, CNBC, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, where they will focus on multimedia reporting, data journalism, social media and other methods for engaging audiences, skills that journalists need in today's newsrooms.

ICFJ will host a two-day, hands-on workshop at the start of the fellowship to develop strategies to get the most out of the program. At the conclusion, the fellows share their plans to revamp their curricula and approaches to teaching and maintain ties with newsrooms for their students.

"In many cases, newsrooms have changed more rapidly than journalism education," said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. "This program will help j-schools keep up with the technological transformations redefining the news industry."

The Back in the Newsroom Fellows and hosts are:

  • Jerry Bembry, assistant professor in the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University in Baltimore, teaches multiplatform production. He will be a fellow at USA Today.
  • Michael Douglas, assistant professor at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in Tallahassee, teaches broadcast journalism with a focus on multimedia reporting. He also is the news director of FAMU-TV. He will be a fellow at the Los Angeles Times.
  • Yolanda McCutchen, assistant professor in broadcast news, multicultural media history and news writing at Howard University in Washington. She will be a fellow at The Washington Post.
  • B. DaVida Plummer, assistant professor focusing on broadcast journalism, writing, media law and broadcast regulation at Hampton University in Hampton, Va. She will be a fellow at CNBC.
  • Jessica Sparks, instructor of multimedia journalism and design at Savannah State University in Georgia. She will be a fellow at The Wall Street Journal.

The International Center for Journalists advances quality journalism worldwide. Our hands-on programs combine the best professional practices with new technologies. We believe that responsible journalism empowers citizens and holds governments accountable. For more, visit Contact: Maite Fernandez, Communications Director, (202) 349-7628,

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit Contact: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, (305) 908-2646,