Digging Deeper

UMD Receives $3M to Establish Investigative Journalism Center
by Terp Staff | Photo by John T. Consoli

A $3 million award from the Scripps Howard Foundation will establish a new investigative journalism center on campus, reinforcing the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s focus on training watchdog reporters.

UMD is one of two universities selected to host the new Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, announced by the Scripps Howard Foundation; a second center will be established at Arizona State University.

They will be multidisciplinary, graduate-level programs that emphasize investigative journalism projects delving into subjects vital to the public interest, conducted with journalism organizations from around the country. The Howard Centers are expected to begin programming for students in 2019.

“The centers are envisioned as innovative educational programs,” says Battinto Batts, director of the journalism fund for the Scripps Howard Foundation. “Both Arizona State University and the University of Maryland are well-positioned to challenge their students to become ethical, entrepreneurial and courageous investigative journalists.”

UMD and ASU were selected also because each has a rigorous curriculum and focuses on hands-on journalist training, the foundation announced.

Merrill College will use the award to recruit diverse classes of standout students and train them in ethical research and reporting methods and compelling multimedia storytelling, college officials say.

“Investigative journalists shine a light on our society’s problems and protect democracy by holding the powerful accountable,” says Lucy Dalglish, Merrill College dean. “The Howard Center at Merrill College will provide an unmatched opportunity for our students to learn to tell important stories in innovative ways, preparing them to become outstanding professional journalists.”

Merrill Students Follow the Leads

Investigative journalism is already in Merrill College’s bloodstream. In the past year alone, Terps tackled the following investigative projects:

• “Home Sick,” which won the 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, exposed how poor living conditions in disadvantaged neighborhoods can contribute to asthma and other illnesses.

• “Trading Away Justice,” a project from the new investigative bureau of the college’s Capital News Service reported on wrongly arrested people who pleaded guilty rather than face trial and potentially long prison sentences. Students showed how opposite choices made by two brothers wrongfully convicted of murder made a big impact on their lives.

• Students of Dana Priest, John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism, reported on popular opinions and government actions related to Confederate monuments in front of county courthouses in five Southern states.

• “Strength and Shame,” an award-winning documentary, delved into the deadly abuse of heroin, prescription painkillers and other opioids.


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