The UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism announced a $25 million state-funded fellowship program in the budget signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., on Wednesday.
The school’s dean Geeta Anand promoted the new program on Friday through her Twitter account.
“Big news for journalism in the Golden State: Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a budget bill that includes $25 million to help Berkeley Journalism serve local journalism around the state,” Anand tweeted.
She added, “So far as we know, it’s the largest infusion of state-level funds into local journalism ever (fact check please!)”
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According to the announcement, the fellowship program will award up to 40 fellows per year a $50,000 annual stipend for at least three years starting in 2023.
Chancellor Carol Christ also praised the new program as a step forward to promote Berkeley Journalism’s standing in higher education.
“This program will be extraordinarily beneficial for the journalism students we educate and the people of California, who we serve,” said Christ. “The greater good is advanced when we can rely on credible, local news coverage that reflects the needs and concerns of all communities. At the same time, providing equitable access to a career in journalism will help ensure our students can thrive professionally, without regard for their origins or identities.”
Another focus of the program, the statement added, is the emphasis on a “diverse” class of new journalists from “underrepresented communities.”
Anand continued her Twitter thread, “This is core to Berkeley Journalism’s mission: removing the economic barriers for journalists who have historically been excluded from the industry. It’s why 1/4 of our new class are 1st-gen college students, and nearly 60% are from communities underrepresented in journalism,” Anand tweeted. “Problem is that J-School students take on a ton of debt (disproportionately carried by women and students of color) and then go into a profession that’s not exactly known for great pay. TL DR: it’s a great time to be a journalist. It’s a terrible time to get paid for it.”
Some journalists praised the move by Newsom as an effort to support “local journalism.”
“Wow!” Washington Post reporter Emma Brown exclaimed.
Former Salt Lake Tribune journalist Alison Berg tweeted, “This is so cool! I got to audit a class at the UC Berkeley School of Investigative Journalism the summer I was an intern at the East Bay Times/Mercury News. Learned so much and one of the coolest experiences I’ve gotten to have. Super cool thing for California.”
Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce wrote, “Some nice journalism policy news: California’s legislature has funded a new $25 million program at UC Berkeley to fund new journalism jobs in needy newsrooms around the state. This emerges out of the SB 911 bill that @MediaGuildWest supported improving.”
“Significant in local journalism funding,” Tow Center for Digital Journalism director Emily Bell tweeted.
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A Gallup poll in July found that only 16% of Americans said they have a “great deal or quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers in 2022, a 5% drop compared to the 2021 findings. This marked the lowest number since Gallup began polling opinions about newspapers in 1973.
Television news also reached new record low levels of trust among Americans with only 11% of those polled saying they had a “great deal or quite a lot” of confidence in the industry.
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University of California, Berkeley has also had various political scandals across its different campuses. In August, a private housing co-op just off the main campus allegedly banned White visitors from their common areas while a UC Berkeley Law dean claimed that an “originalist” reading of the Constitution is a “scourge” to the Supreme Court.