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Long Island University’s George Polk Awards to Fund Investigative Reporting Projects

Effort comes in response to massive newsroom layoffs since 2008


Brian Harmon,Director of Public Relations
Brooklyn Campus,
Long Island University
(718) 488-1418, (516) 551-0431

Brooklyn, N.Y. — Long Island University and administrators of the George Polk Awards in Journalism are set to kick off a program that will fund investigative reporting projects taken on by print and broadcast reporters who have been laid off from jobs in journalism.

The George Polk Grants for Investigative Reporting — underwritten by a grant from the Ford Foundation — will be geared toward experienced reporters who are not currently employed in journalism, but who have ideas for solid investigative work, said John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards. While special consideration will be given to such journalists, it is not an absolute requirement.

All work produced as a result of the grants will be published on the Internet.

“We're looking for the seasoned veterans who know where the bodies are buried and how to go about digging them up,” Darnton said. “All they need is a little funding to get going.”

“This is a major addition for the George Polk Awards. In addition to honoring the best enterprise reporting, we hope to inspire it. We want to sow the seeds as well as give out blue ribbons,” he added.

The University and the Polk Awards committee are responding to what has amounted to a crisis in the news industry, where thousands of journalists have lost their jobs since the start of the nation's economic downturn in 2008. The program will provide grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, as well as editorial supervision.

Darnton said highlighting the work of the grant recipients on the Internet will inspire an increase of investigative journalism produced for the Web.

“Reporters get a little breathing room and the satisfaction of completing that story they've long wanted to do,” he said. “And if it makes a splash, it'll draw attention to the Internet as a vehicle for uncovering corruption and abuse.”

Applications may be made on the George Polk Web site of Long Island University,, starting immediately. Darnton noted the George Polk Awards longstanding tradition of rewarding top investigative journalism.

“Everyone understands that there's a crisis in American newspapers, but not everyone realizes that there's a crisis in American journalism. It's come about because investigative and enterprise work, which is the most important for a free democracy, is in jeopardy and hasn't made the leap over to the digital world,” he said.

Darnton added that recently there were some glimmers of hope, ranging from start-up Web sites covering local news in many cities to foundation-funded reporting enterprises like ProPublica, which has earned Polk Awards the last two years.

The George Polk Awards in Journalism are conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism, with a premium placed on investigative and enterprise reporting. They were established in 1949 by Long Island University to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent who was murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war. The 2010 George Polk Awards were presented April 7.

George Polk Awards
Ranked among America's most coveted journalism honors, the George Polk Awards have been administered by Long Island University since 1949.They memorialize CBS correspondent George W. Polk, who was slain covering the civil war in Greece in 1948. A committee of jurors made up of University faculty members and alumni select the winners from entries submitted by journalists and news organizations as well as nominations made by a panel of journalists and editors, including a number of former winners.

About Long Island University
n its ninth decade of providing access to the American dream through excellence in higher education, Long Island University is a multicampus, diverse, doctoral institution of higher learning. One of the largest and most comprehensive private universities in the country, Long Island University offers more than 550 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs and certificates, and educates over 24,000* students in degree-credit and continuing education programs in Brooklyn, Brookville (C.W. Post), Brentwood, Riverhead, Rockland and Westchester. The Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences prepares students for successful careers in the fields of pharmacy and health care. The University's Global College provides a wide range of study abroad options at overseas centers in China, Costa Rica and India, and through program offerings in Australia, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. Long Island University's more than 600 full-time faculty members provide outstanding instruction, which is supplemented by internships and cooperative education opportunities. The accomplishments of more than 182,000 living alumni are a testament to the success of its mission – providing the highest level of education to people from all walks of life. The University's NCAA Division I and II athletic teams, nationally renowned George Polk Awards in journalism and Tilles Center for the Performing Arts provide enrichment for students and the community.
*This number includes high school students enrolled in one or more degree-credit courses.

The Brooklyn Campus is distinguished by...
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.

Posted 05/23/2011

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