Columbia Journalism Review Names First-Ever Encore Journalism Fellows

Terry McDermott

A new encore fellowship program based at Columbia University will help downsized journalists continue to serve the public interest in encore careers that take advantage of their journalistic skills and experience.

The new CJR Encore Journalism Fellowships come at a time when the news industry is suffering from the ravages of the recession and problems with the business model that has long sustained serious reporting. According to some estimates, 16,000 journalists lost their jobs in 2008, as advertising revenues plummeted.

"We hope this innovative program inspires other foundations and other organizations to set up “Encore” programs of their own, to take advantage of the vast pool of journalist talent that is out there," the editors of the Columbia Journalism Review write in their posting about a new fellowship program based at the magazine.

The CJR Encore Journalism Fellowships, like the encore fellowships that are part of the Silicon Valley Encore Initiative, are designed to help late-career professionals transition to encore careers that combine continued income and social impact. The initiative, the first of its kind in the news industry, will provide downsized professionals with a writing position as well as support to help them choose how best to use their experience in the years ahead. Their work will be featured in the magazine and on over a nine-month period beginning in late October.

Civic Ventures, along with the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, one of the nation’s top journalism training centers, helped CJR design the fellowship program.

CJR’s Encore Fellows were drawn from the senior reporting ranks of those who have recently left their jobs because of the industry’s economic condition, but who are not ready for traditional retirement. Thanks to a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies, they will receive stipends on par with other important journalism fellowships. Editors at the Columbia Journalism Review hopes that new donors will help launch an expanded Fellowship Program for 2010.

The inaugural 2009 CJR Encore Fellows are:

  • Lisa Anderson, who was the New York bureau chief and a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune until December 2008. She directed the bureau, which at its peak had four national correspondents, and also reported on major domestic and international stories, ranging from the battle over evolution to presidential campaigns from 1992 to 2008 to the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Her international stories included the conflicts in Kosovo and Afghanistan, the rise of conservative Islam in Egypt and the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. She was a features correspondent for the Tribune before that, profiling people including Brad Pitt and Nancy Reagan. Prior to the Tribune, she worked for Women’s Wear Daily, W Magazine, and WCBS-TV News.
  • Jill Drew, who was an associate editor at The Washington Post until August 2009. For nine of her 14 years at the newspaper, she was assistant managing editor for financial news. She also served as the paper’s page A-1 weekend editor, Manhattan-based Wall Street correspondent and Beijing-based China correspondent. Before joining The Post, she worked for seven years as an editor and reporter for New York Newsday.
  • Terry McDermott, whose career spans 30 years at eight newspapers, most recently at the Los Angeles Times, where he covered more than two dozen countries on diverse subjects, including the 9/11 plot, building skyscrapers, rare blood molecules, Japanese trade restrictions, the California dream and the Alzheimer’s epidemic. He is the author of Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers - Who They Were, Why They Did It and the upcoming 101 Theory Drive: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for Memory.
  • Don Terry, who holds a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and has been a reporter since 1980. Terry has worked at the Chicago Defender, the Chicago Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the St. Paul Dispatch and The New York Times, where he was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for the series, “How Race Is Lived in America.” Terry’s memoir about growing up biracial in Chicago, one of the most segregated big cities in the country, was the last piece in the series. Currently, Terry writes a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times.

“CJR is thrilled to be able to play a critical role not only in assisting these distinguished journalists, but our hope is that they will inspire downsized journalists across the county, who will benefit from the examples set by this inaugural class of fellows in developing their encore careers,” said Victor Navasky, chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review.