$1.5 Million Gift Eill Establish Innovative Journalism Center at Ga. School

Special to HarpBlaster.com News Wire

KENNESAW, Ga. — In the midst of an annual conference designed to pinpoint the Southeast’s niche in the digital media revolution‚ Kennesaw State University announced receipt of a $1.5 million gift from the Harnisch Foundation to establish a center to research and develop innovative ways to produce and distribute news.

Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp announced the award and the creation of The Center for Sustainable Journalism Feb. 7 at the SoCon09 “Unconference” attended by more than 300 business‚ nonprofit and media professionals‚ bloggers and digital media enthusiasts.

The center will be overseen by Leonard Witt‚ Kennesaw State’s Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication‚ eminent scholar and associate professor‚ who organized the SoCon09 conference. Witt is a pioneer in developing community−supported‚ journalism models and exploring the potential of online social networks to disseminate news.

Witt’s work caught the attention of Ruth Ann Harnisch‚ president of the Harnisch Foundation‚ which supports and funds projects and programs that promote sustainable social change in philanthropy‚ coaching and journalism. The Foundation initially provided more than $60‚000 to support Witt’s launch of a Minnesota−based‚ community−supported journalism project.

“The continuing support we are receiving from the Harnisch Foundation enables KSU futher support the important nationally recognized research being conducted by Leornad Witt‚” said KSU President Daniel S. Papp. “This major gift will go a long way in establishing Witt’s and KSU’s prominence in the emerging field of news dissemination through social networks.”

The current award‚ which will be spread over five years‚ will help underwrite applied research‚ build collaborations and advance innovative journalism projects regionally and around the country. The center will research and test a continuing stream of innovative journalism projects and nurture the best of them into self−sustaining entities.

“We are living in an era when old journalism models are failing‚ newspapers are faltering and experienced journalists are losing their jobs‚” Witt said. “This solution−oriented funding comes at a critical time‚ and with it‚ we can start to build new models that will ensure journalism continues to play its vital role in our democracy.”

Witt has been sharing his ideas about journalism innovation on his blog (PJNet.org) for six years.

“Technology has changed everything for everyone in every way‚” said Ruth Ann Harnisch. “Len Witt understands how that affects the flow of information. I am investing in his leadership in the field because he’s willing to engage in bold experiments that could help shape the future of journalism.”

Witt said the Harnisch Foundation’s gift addresses a mutual concern for the future of traditional journalism.

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