PH: No. That accounting has never happened before as far as I know. So what we’ve done is started to talk to academic researchers, like Sharon Dunwoody at the University of Wisconsin, and ask them: All right, now if we wanted to find out who’s doing what and whether just moving, or what they’re doing, can you help us do the research. So we’re starting to do research so that at some point we’ll be able to say to the young journalists, hey, it’s not so bad, there are jobs out there, they’re just in different places—or give them the bad news that actually, in fact, you better go do something else. I don’t know which is the case. You think about The New York Times—they’re losing bodies on the newspaper staff, but gaining bodies on the online side, and pretty soon those reporters are going to start looking the same. There’s going to be no distinction between whether you’re an online Times person or a newspaper Times person - I think many staffs are going that way. But is there a net gain or net loss? We have to find out.
CB: Is this how will you put your own stamp on the fellowships program?
PH: The assessment will be part of it. What it will actually be making sure that the fellowships keep up with the new media. We’re also going to have our Web presence grow and make our site destination. For example, at MIT, all of the 1,800 courses here are online. If you want to take a course in physics you go to the open courseware and you find the physics professor on video, teaching, and all his course materials there. On our end, we have to do the same thing. Our Medical Evidence Boot Camp is in about its eighth year, and now we’ve taken the person who does the statistics lecture, the basic stuff on epidemiology — how does this work, what do you have to look out for as a journalists, what numbers to you have to pay attention to — she is now on video, online there, if you want to learn epidemiology for journalists. We also had this Future of Science Journalism conference in February, so now all those audio talks are up and online. We’re going to have more blogs. The Knight Science Journalism Tracker will be gradually built up so that it’s worldwide. You’ll be able to look every week and see, in the Spanish-speaking world for example, what’s being covered in science journalism.
CB: What do you hear specifically from fellows in terms of what they want to learn?
PH: Each fellow is a little different. Some of them come in blogging already, and others say “Hey, I want to learn that.” We’re going to try to make sure that we have teachers available for them for whatever they want to learn so that when their employers say “You need to do a blog or you need to do a podcast,” they can do it. But the main thing, still, is that they take any classes they want at Harvard and MIT. That’s what they spend most of their time doing—going to classes, finding scientists, talking to them, getting sources, getting their stories.
That’s still the core. Then we have forty-five seminars a year of own, which happen twice a week, where we bring in people. For example, this year, alternative energy is crucially important, so we’re going to have to have several seminars on the new energy technologies. And of course at Harvard and MIT there are all these folks doing it—solar, nuclear, wind, geothermal. We have to keep journalists up to speed on all of that. But we do a full range of seminars—from exo-planets, to stem cells, to new nuclear plants—and try to cover all the topics, but the topics change. A few years ago, we had no nanotechnology—that’s here now. And the cognitive sciences have exploded because of the imaging techniques that are possible, so there are more seminars on cognitive science than there were ten years ago. We’re basically trying to shape ourselves to the science. That is to say, the more new stuff in an area, the more we’re going to go find it. It’s what you’d expect of reporters—they want to find out what’s the newest stuff and how does it work.
CB: And you try to bring in international fellows so that this is all global in scope?