As NPR correspondents Chris Arnold and Eric Westervelt head off to spend the 2012-2013 school year at Harvard's Neiman Journalism Foundation and Stanford's John S. Knight fellowship program, respectively, they join a solid - and growing - number of NPR staffers who are pursuing opportunities for outside studies.
Curious to explore the role that higher learning plays in larger staff development goals, we chatted with a few former fellows here at NPR about their accomplishments outside of the newsroom. Check out some of their experiences below.
A New Love for News
Feeling burnt-out after helping to launch TheRoot.com, entrepreneurial strategist Lynette Clemetson "quietly wondered if [she] would even still be in journalism" while applying for a Knight-Wallace fellowship on financial and editorial viability of online news ventures. Clemetson took her time at The University of Michigan to develop a module on entrepreneurial journalism while reassessing her own ambitions. As the current director of blossoming local journalism initiative, StateImpact, Clemetson credits the fellowship for reigniting her love of journalism and paving her path to NPR.
Making Moves, Tennessee to D.C.
While Clemetson's studies reunited her ambition with purpose, Tanya Ballard Brown embarked on her congressional fellowship with the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C., as an ambitious young reporter with a strategy to propel her clout at The Tennessean. While she credits the fellowship for honing her investigative and networking skills, the experience made Brown hungry for opportunities beyond the regional paper. After wrapping up her time on Capitol Hill, Ballard Brown decided to stick around D.C., where she commenced a career that has since been distinguished with numerous journalism awards. Today, she remains in Washington as a digital editor for NPR.org.
Ancient World, Fresh Perspective
© 2010 NPR, by Doby Photography
After spending nearly a decade covering international news and the Pentagon for NPR, the opportunity to host Weekend All Things Considered inspired Guy Raz to take a contemplative step back. Raz moved forward with a comparative study between the U.S. and ancient Rome at the Neiman Foundation, hoping to achieve a better understanding of America's place in the world. Raz commends the fellowship for teaching him that "almost everything I believe in could be challenged in reasonable ways." He returned to NPR as host of WATC with a new-found perspective on styles of news presentation.
Going into these discussions, we anticipated a broad range of professional motivations for mid-career graduate studies, and wondered how the fruits of these fellow's varying personal ambitions would translate into their work at NPR. We discovered that, across the board, our journalists return with a vitality that is a crucial to the creative machine behind NPR.
To which we say: game on, Chris and Eric.