- While there are several universities across the country with active journalism departments, Kennesaw State University offers something a little different when it comes to educating not just their students, but to the public as well. Imagine a center that upholds the journalistic ideals of ethics, responsibility, and an unbiased objective, but also fosters civic engagement and collective action. This is Kennesaw State University’s Center for Sustainable Journalism.
Founded in 2009, The Center for Sustainable Journalism is the brainchild of Leonard Witt, Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication at Kennesaw State University. According to a 2009 interview with KSU Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group chair in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Nikhil Moro, Witt said that the Center for Sustainable Journalism will work on two levels: the applied/practical, and the academic.
1. The Center will be an incubator, economic engine and nurturer of new, sustainable models for high quality, ethically sound journalism. The goal will be to produce projects that will be spun off into stand-alone nonprofit or for-profit entities.
2. The Center will be part of Kennesaw State University where it will reflect the university’s educational mission of teaching, mentoring, coaching, service and applied research in a global environment. That includes working with undergraduates, developing new courses, building a graduate program and producing bodies of research and evaluative tools related to the projects developed and to applied media innovation and information economics in general.
The Center currently operates from a $1.5 million endowment by the Harnisch Foundation. Building upon the Foundation’s principles of sustainable social change and innovation in journalism, the Center plans to “test a stream of journalism projects that aim to break the stranglehold of traditional media,” according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. One way the Center does this is through three annual conferences in the metro Atlanta area: The Social Media Integration Conference, Media Law in the Digital Age, and SoCon. SoCon is particularly popular with Atlanta journalists, drawing reporters from local and regional news outlets, as well as news executives such as CNN’s Victor Hernandez. (Click here for highlights from Hernandez’s keynote address at SoCon in 2011.)