CUNY’s Newmark Journalism School Introduces Criminal Justice Reporting Initiative

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Photo: Mat Hayward

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY is launching a three-year drive to strengthen criminal justice reporting in New York City and around the country.

Funded by The Tow Foundation, the Criminal Justice Reporting Initiative will kick off in June with a two-day, in-person workshop for mid-career journalists on how to dig into police cover-ups. It will be followed in the fall with a 14-week course for Newmark J-School students, in collaboration with the nonprofit news site THE CITY, aimed at producing youth-focused criminal justice journalism.

Daryl Khan, director of the J-School’s Urban Reporting Program, will lead the initiative’s dual efforts. He’ll be joined in the classroom by Hasani Gittens, a deputy editor at THE CITY.

“We are thrilled that The Tow Foundation has chosen Newmark J-School to house this criminal justice initiative,” said Dean Sarah Bartlett. “We share Tow’s mission of wanting to train the next generation of criminal justice journalists to identify where our system is broken and produce stories about it in a compelling and meaningful way.”

“Journalism plays a critical role in the larger criminal justice reform movement,” said Emily Tow, president of The Tow Foundation. “Our hope is that this initiative will give journalists the tools they need to educate the public, hold leaders accountable, and combat misinformation on issues relating to justice.”

“Much of the reporting on criminal justice centers on adults’ experiences in the system. However, one perspective that is rarely included in the conversation is that of juveniles who have found themselves in a very adult world with little insight on how to navigate a system fraught with complexities and problems,” said Richard Kim, editor in chief of THE CITY. “Their stories deserve to be told and spotlighted to the same degree that we share the plights of adults in the criminal justice system. We’re excited to partner with the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and The Tow Foundation to train the next generation of journalists to continue this important work.”

The two-day “Anatomy of a Police Cover-up” training will take place June 13-14 at the Newmark J-School in Manhattan. Participants will engage in a deep examination of investigative stories that exposed corruption in the wake of two killings by police. They’ll hear from the people involved in the stories, including civil rights lawyers, whistleblower law enforcement officers, the mothers of the victims, and the reporters.

There will also be a discussion of best practices for how to approach the families of people killed by the police, how to cultivate sources for police corruption stories, and how to produce high-impact journalism.

Applicants to the program should send a resume; relevant written, video, or audio clip, and criminal justice story they’d like to work on to Qualified journalists will be accepted as they apply. The program will cover their travel, lodging, and workshop costs.

Third-semester students taking the “Criminal Justice Reporting Lab” in the fall will learn about the vast complexity of the criminal justice system, with special emphasis on family courts, where most youth cases end up.

The class will examine media coverage of criminal justice issues and the mistakes news organizations make when reporting on crime victims and suspects who are people of color. It will also explore solutions-oriented initiatives that help to combat the most negative aspects of our criminal justice system.

For more information about the project, contact Daryl Khan at


About the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, founded in 2006, has become nationally recognized for its innovative programs. The only public graduate journalism school in the northeastern U.S., it prepares students from diverse economic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to produce high-quality journalism. As the news industry continues to reinvent itself for the digital age, the Newmark J-School is at the forefront of equipping journalists at every stage of the profession with the reporting, writing, interactive, technological, and entrepreneurial skills they need to find stories and tell them effectively. The school offers a Master of Arts in Journalism, a unique bilingual M.A. in Journalism for students fluent in English and Spanish, and the nation’s first M.A. in Engagement Journalism, as well as a Center for Community Media and professional and executive education programs.

About The Tow Foundation

The Tow Foundation, established in 1988 by Leonard and Claire Tow, funds projects that promote transformative experiences and collaborative ventures in fields where there are opportunities for breakthroughs, reform, and benefits for underserved populations. Investments focus on the support of innovative programs and system reform in the fields of youth and adult criminal justice, medicine and public health, higher education, journalism, and culture. For more information, visit or follow @Towfdn on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting journalism that serves the people of New York. THE CITY’s reporters pound the pavement in all five boroughs, delivering stories on a wide range of topics including education, the economy, transportation, health care, housing, criminal justice, elections, the environment, public safety, and the workplace. Such stories aim to drive the public conversation, set the agenda on key issues, and empower people through insight, information, and engagement.