J-School Celebrates Tow-Knight Center Launch

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism threw a party last night to celebrate the new jewel in its program, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. The Center was established last fall with $3 million from The Tow Foundation and $3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, supplemented by additional foundation grants and in-kind contributions of staff and technology from the CUNY J-School.

Some 150 guests heard remarks by two men who were instrumental in getting the Center off the ground: Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation, and Leonard Tow, founder and chairman of The Tow Foundation. Their joint appearance was followed by a discussion about the future of news with AOL Chairman Tim Armstrong, Google Inc. Vice-President Marissa Mayer, and Tow-Knight Center Director Jeff Jarvis.

(Here’s a summary of the event on the Knight Foundation’s official blog.)

The Tow-Knight Center aims to help the CUNY J-School take a leadership position in finding ways to support quality journalism. The Center will work towards that goal by educating students and mid-career journalists in innovation and business management; doing research into new business models for the media; and developing new journalistic enterprises.

One of the Tow-Knight Center’s first official acts was awarding a total of $40,000 on Dec. 13 to a mid-career journalist and three CUNY J-School students for businesses they conceived in Jarvis’s Entrepreneurial Journalism class. The top prize of $20,000 went to former New York Times editor Jeanne Pinder for her website, Clear Health Costs, that would provide a realistic comparison of health-care prices.

The inaugural class in the CUNY J-School's new entrepreneurial journalism program with (middle of photo, left to right) Knight Foundation CEO Alberto Ibargüen, Tow-Knight Center Director Jeff Jarvis, Tow Foundation Chairman Leonard Tow, Tow Foundation Executive Director Emily Tow Jackson, and Tow-Knight Center Education Director Jeremy Caplan.

The Center also introduced an academic pilot program in entrepreneurial journalism for the Spring 2011 semester. The curriculum includes a business fundamentals course, a technology immersion module, a survey of practices in journalism revenue generation, an entrepreneurial incubator, and a new-media apprenticeship.

An inaugural group of 11 students was selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants from around the world. The curriculum ultimately will serve as the foundation of a new Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism that has been approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees and is awaiting registration by the New York State Education Department.