Washington Post supports scholarships for programmers at Medill

January 30, 2013

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 the Medill School at Northwestern University, followed by a paid internship at The Post.

The 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. 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.” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, Editor for Strategic Projects at The Washington Post.

“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, Sports Production Editor at The Post, 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 Post is our first partner in this innovative program with Medill and 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 are announcing the new partnership on the eve of the Computation + Journalism Symposium ( http://computation-and-journalism.com/symposium2013/) at Georgia Tech, which brings together journalists and computer scientists to explore interdisciplinary projects.

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 theworld.org; 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 http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/knight/.

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