Home Alumni McCormick Tribune awards $50,000 grant to SJMC

McCormick Tribune awards $50,000 grant to SJMC

The McCormick Tribune Foundation has awarded Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication $50,000 for a Specialized Reporting Institute. The workshop, called “McCormick Tribune Specialized Reporting Institute: Covering the Presidential Nominating Process,” will be offered to 16 mid-career journalists from around the nation and will be held on Drake’s campus June 3-5. Drake will be teaming up with the Poynter Institute, a news media training organization, to present the institute.

“Drake and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication look forward to partnering with media leaders such as the McCormick Tribune Foundation and the Poynter Institute to help journalists better understand our Iowa Caucuses and how to better report about the presidential nominating process,” said Charlie Edwards, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “The caucuses provide a unique opportunity for our students to learn and interact with national news media outlets.”

Led by Journalism Program Director Clark Bell, JO’73, the McCormick Tribune Foundation has launched a new grant initiative to sponsor specialized reporting institutes on covering timely niche issues. The foundation will award a total of four $50,000 grants this year, including specialized reporting institutes to be held this spring about homeland security with Johns Hopkins University and the economic impact of the philanthropic/nonprofit sector with the Foundation for American Communications.

For Bell, helping his alma mater was a natural fit. He remembers his own student experience at Drake fondly, from working as the advertising director of The Times-Delphic to being a sports reporter for the Des Moines Register and campus rep for Playboy magazine. But more importantly, he understands the dynamic role of Drake and Des Moines in the influential Iowa Caucus process.

“I’m fortunate enough to be able to put good people together with good programs to create win-win situations,” Bell said. “This is a good example of what I hope to accomplish with the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and the fact that I’m able to include my alma mater shows my great respect for Drake.”

The specialized reporting institute at Drake will kick off Sunday, June 3, with a “community conversation” — a moderated town hall meeting — about how media organizations can help the public make better decisions during the presidential nominating process. The event will be free and open to the community.

Faculty from the Poynter Institute and Drake University as well as politicians and experts will then lead a two-day workshop June 4-5 for the journalist participants. Workshop leaders will discuss ways media organizations can better employ polling data to inform voters beyond “horse race” reporting.

Designed to equip journalists with the necessary tools to cover the campaign trail more responsibly, workshop sessions will cover the following topics:

• Mining public opinion polls

• Following the money trail while traveling the campaign trail

• “Best practices” in political coverage

• Getting the candidates’ perspective on political coverage

• The ethics of balance vs. fairness in election coverage

• Telling the daily story in a compelling and essential way to the public

• Using the myriad tools that converge online to enhance storytelling

The participating journalists and workshop leaders will be selected and announced this spring. Janet Keefer, associate professor of journalism, is coordinating the Drake effort.