How Reynolds Foundation's Gift to Missouri University Fits Into Its Vision of Journalism's Future

What are the critical ingredients for a healthy field of journalism in the upcoming decade?

If you scan IP's journalism vertical, many answers will jump out at you. You'll see foundations like Robert Wood Johnson opting for a segmented funding approach, allocating health journalism funding as a way to build out a vibrant sub-area. And of course, you'll see Knight playing an active role in embracing "community platform journalism" that unites "citizen hackers" and their technical acumen with traditional newsrooms.

All of these things, of course, are important, but we can't blame faculty members for occasionally asking, "What about us?"

Or, to expound upon that question, how will journalism faculty members' roles evolve as segmentation and technology become more prominent? What will they have to teach the "citizen hackers?" And who, at the end of the day, is going to pay for it all?

Enter the Reynolds Foundation. As you may know, it was set up in honor of Donald W. Reynolds, a 1927 Missouri University (MU) journalism school alumnus who owned more than 100 enterprises in newspaper, radio, television, cable television and outdoor advertising. The foundation created MU's journalism school in 2004 with a $31 million grant.

We here at IP also profiled their recent efforts to create a new business reporting outlet, which echoed the aforementioned segmentation strategy employed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Reynolds acknowledges that the art of teaching journalism must also keep pace with the changes affecting the field and so they've announced a $10 million gift to support faculty fellowships. This $10 million gift, along with matching funds from private donors, will create the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Faculty Excellence Fund. The fund will support 50 endowed faculty fellowships for associate and full-time professors at the journalism school. Donors who provide matching funds will name the individual fellowships.

The purpose of the gift is simple. Journalism faculty are, in a way, learning the new rules just like anyone else. By providing fellows with the flexibility and autonomy to explore this new terrain, MU is ensuring that its students will benefit as well.

Oh, and the foundation is also going out with a bang. The gift represents the last of its kind, as the Reynolds Foundation will cease operations in 2017.