The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University is the primary journalism institution at Harvard.
It was founded in February 1938 as the result of a $1.4 million bequest by Agnes Wahl Nieman, the widow of Lucius W. Nieman, founder of The Milwaukee Journal. Scholarships were established for journalists with at least three years' experience to go back to college to advance their work. She stated the goal was "to promote and elevate the standards of journalism in the United States and educate persons deemed specially qualified for journalism."
The Nieman Foundation is best known as home to the Nieman Fellows, a group of journalists from around the world who come to Harvard for a year of study. Many noted journalists, and from 1959, also photojournalists, have been Nieman Fellows, including John Carroll, Dexter Filkins, Susan Orlean, Robert Caro, Hodding Carter, Michael Kirk, Alex Jones, Anthony Lewis, Robert Maynard, Allister Sparks, Stanley Forman, Hedrick Smith, Lucia Annunziata, Jonathan Yardley, Philip Meyer, Howard Sochurek and Huy Duc. It is considered the most prestigious fellowship program for journalists; Nieman Fellows have collectively won 101 Pulitzer Prizes.
The foundation is also the home of Nieman Reports, a quarterly journal on journalism issues. The journal was founded in 1947.
In 2004, the Foundation launched Nieman Watchdog, a website intended to encourage more aggressive questioning of the powerful by news organizations. In 2012 it became a project of Nieman Reports.
Nieman Journalism Lab
For several years, ending in 2009, the foundation sponsored the annual Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism, the largest conference of its kind, which attracted hundreds of writers, filmmakers, and broadcasters to Boston. The narrative program now consists of a writing seminar for Fellows, and a public website, Nieman Storyboard, which covers storytelling across media.
Awards based at Nieman Foundation
Several prestigious literary or journalism awards are based at the Nieman Foundation. They include three given in connection with the Columbia University School of Journalism:
- The J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize ($10,000, "recognizes superb examples of nonfiction writing that exemplify literary grace, a commitment to serious research and social concern")
- The Mark Lynton History Prize ($10,000, awarded to the "book-length work of history, on any subject, that best combines intellectual or scholarly distinction with felicity of expression")
- The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award ($30,000, "given annually to aid in the completion of a significant work of nonfiction")
Other awards based at Nieman include:
- The Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting ($20,000, "honors investigative reporting of stories of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served")
- The I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence ("to a journalist whose work captures the spirit of independence, integrity, courage, and indefatigability that characterized I. F. Stone's Weekly")
- The Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism ("recognizes displays of conscience and integrity by individuals, groups or institutions in communications")
- The Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers ($10,000, "recognizes fairness in newspaper reporting")
The leader of the Nieman Foundation is known as its "curator" — a holdover from a brief moment after Agnes Wahl Nieman's death when her gift was to be used to build a microfilm library of quality journalism. The foundation has appointed eight curators:
- Archibald MacLeish, 1938–1939
- Louis M. Lyons (Nieman Fellow class of 1939), 1939–1964
- Dwight E. Sargent (Nieman Fellow class of 1951), 1964–1972
- James C. Thomson Jr., 1972–1984
- Howard Simons (Nieman Fellow class of 1959), 1984–1989
- Bill Kovach (Nieman Fellow class of 1989), 1989–2000
- Robert H. Giles (Nieman Fellow class of 1966), 2000 – June 2011
- Ann Marie Lipinski (Nieman Fellow class of 1990), 2011 –
- "School for Reporters". Green Bay Press-Gazette. February 16, 1938. p. 6. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
- "Authority to Sell Paper's Stock Asked". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. March 29, 1936. pp. 2A. Retrieved October 16, 2022.
- "About Nieman Reports". Nieman Reports. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
- "Nieman Watchdog". niemanwatchdog.org. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
- Lambert, Craig (19 April 2012). "Meta-journalism". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
- Grueskin, Bill (July 19, 2021). "How a Twitter thread sparked a lawsuit against Nieman Lab's founder". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
In the thirteen years since it was founded, Harvard University's Nieman Lab has developed a reputation for thoughtful explorations of digital trends in journalism and incisive critiques of how reporters and editors go about their business.
- Forman, Craig I. (12 October 2021). "Solutions to America's Local Journalism Crisis: Consolidated Literature Review". Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
At Harvard, in the gray area between academic research and journalism, both Ken Doctor and Joshua Benton have made consistent contributions to the understanding of the changing business of local journalism in the contributions to the Nieman Journalism Lab.
- Gerova, Veselina (8 March 2017). "Follow these newsletters by journalists and never miss a thing". TNW. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
- "Nieman Foundation". nieman.harvard.edu.
- "Nieman Storyboard". niemanstoryboard.org.