Journalists of Color program receives $20,000 contribution

Jim Boren (center) answers questions about fake news in the Henry Madden Library on Oct. 27, 2017. Boren currently serves as the executive director for the Institute for Media and Public Trust. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

Microsoft Corp. contributed $20,000 on Oct. 27 to the Central Valley Journalists of Color program, allowing for a monthly student stipend.

Executive Director of the Institute for Media and Public Trust Jim Boren secured additional funding for the program through networking in the Microsoft Journalism Initiative.

“Microsoft has a program called the Microsoft Journalism Initiative in six communities around the country. One of those [is] in Fresno, and I’ve been working with them on that project. Then we networked together, as I told them about our students of color program and they thought that that would be something that they’d like to participate in,” Boren said.

Boren said he believes Microsoft Corp.’s initial $20,000 contribution will not be the last, as Microsoft Corp. indicated that it wants to continue funding the program.

“We hope they’ll be there. Partners indefinitely. They have not made that commitment, but they have indicated that they support the program and would like to be an ongoing sponsor,” Boren said.

The contribution provided to the Central Valley Journalists of Color program will go toward the overall budget of the program. However, students will receive a stipend as a result of the contribution. 

Major donors of the program include the California Endowment as well as the James B. McClatchy Foundation, among others.

Betsy Hays, media, communications and journalism (MCJ) department chair, was delighted at the news of the contribution as it would help diversify newsrooms in the Central Valley in the future.

“In MCJ we are thrilled about our Central Valley Journalists of Color program, and we are so pleased that Microsoft has recognized its value and chosen to support it,” Hays said.

“We all need to work together to increase the diversity of newsrooms and news coverage. Better journalism will be the result.”

The contribution from Microsoft Corp. will allow the program to pay participants in the program a $300 monthly stipend per academic year.

Currently, there are five students enrolled in the program, which began its trial run in September. The program is expected to add three more students.

Participants begin as high school seniors, taking various journalism courses for their final year. Each year the program recruits eight individuals to participate in the five-year program.

After they graduate, participants can attend Fresno City College then transfer to Fresno State, or go directly to the university to continue their five-year program and graduate with a journalism degree.

The Central Valley Journalists of Color program seeks to help address issues of diversity within the newsroom, not only in terms of reporters but also in terms of coverage of news media to better reflect their surroundings.

“We want your newsrooms to reflect your community. In the Fresno area, we have a very diverse community. So this program, hopefully these students… training [in] journalism will stay in our community to work at the Fresno Bee, ABC 30, LA public radio to help not just to diversify these newsrooms, but also get good young qualified journalists in the pipeline,” Boren said.

Boren noted that several newsrooms in the Central Valley have shown interest in the program and intend on hiring well-qualified graduates not simply because of their background.

By the time graduates leave the program, they will be equipped with a wide variety of skills to help tackle the ever technologically-changing profession of journalism.

“The idea is not just to hire journalists, because of their background, but to hire young, good, qualified journalists that are from our community, that know our community that can tell stories about our community in a very sophisticated way,” Boren said.

“We think that this program will train young people of color to tell stories in print and online and then video and podcasts and filmmaking. Because, as you know, media have changed to the point where journalists need all those skills to be successful.”

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