unbearable whiteness of college newspapers
Richard Just, who was editor-in-chief of the Daily Princetonian in 2001, runs the Princeton Summer Journalism Program, probably the most ambitious program of its kind in the country. After grappling with the familiar racial disparities in staffing and coverage, Just and three Princetonian colleagues resolved to increase the pool of potential minority and low-income student journalists. The result is a 10-day, all-expenses-paid journalism camp for high school students from under-resourced high schools that has met at Princeton for the past six summers. About 20 participants a year hear from a star-studded cast of professional journalists (this year's camp included New Yorker and Washington Post reporters) and produce their own paper (pdf). The program was originally limited to black and Latino students but is now open to any student with a combined parental income of under $45,000. The program also has a strong college counseling component-"once they graduate, we're going to spend six months helping them with the college application process, editing their essays etc." says Just, now deputy editor of The New Republic. All the work has paid off, with graduates attending a range of top universities and snagging internships at the Philadelphia Daily News and the Today Show. With a $40,000 annual price tag, Just says he is desperately looking for a big donor to shore up the program's future. This year organizers had to whittle down a strong applicant pool of 878 to just 22 students. "If we can ever find money to expand we could make a medium-size dent rather than a small dent in the problem," he says.
Jason Zengerle