Annual Report 2016-2017
From the Director
It used to be that people kept “commonplace books”—ways of collecting knowledge that you could refer to over time. Both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were taught to keep commonplace books at Harvard University; over at Widener Library you can still find their commonplace books in published form. This annual report is a bit of a commonplace book, collecting the work of our 30th year of teaching, research, and engagement with the broad topic of media, politics, technology, and public policy. My first year as director has been exhilarating, and I hope that is reflected in this annual report, as well as the video that accompanies it.
Following the most contentious election campaign in modern history, the mission of the Shorenstein Center—to explore and illuminate the intersection of media, politics, and policy—has never been more important. Tom Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, researched and wrote four stellar reports on media coverage of the campaign that have been widely circulated and discussed. Along with the Institute of Politics, we co-sponsored the Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) quadrennial Campaign Managers’ Conference. For the first time, we assembled a team of Harvard College and HKS students who provided all of the research and background material for the conference moderators. And Harvard President Drew Faust, in the wake of the election results, invited the Nieman Foundation and the Shorenstein Center to co-sponsor a major event in January on The Future of News in Sanders Theatre, along with the President’s Office.
What do I love about returning to the Kennedy School? Students! We have hired more students as research assistants than ever before. A new summer internship program will place students at media and technology companies across the U.S. Our visiting speakers now fill their day with student meetings, in addition to their formal talk. Our fellows have spent an increasing amount of time with students this year. We launched a new entrepreneurship fellows program at the Center and they have been deluged with student requests for advice on careers, new startups, and social entrepreneurship. And our major events—the Theodore H. White Lecture, Salant Lecture, and Goldsmith Awards—all included large dinners where half of the population was students. One of my goals is to make the Shorenstein Center the place to be for Kennedy School students.
We have expanded the Center’s advisory board and increased our fundraising push. A new faculty affiliates program has expanded our research component. Matt Baum, Kalb Professor of Global Communication, spearheaded an executive session on fake news in February and I was glad to be able to provide some financial assistance for this early look at research on fake news in the Trump era. More research initiatives will be announced soon.
I’d like to thank all of the students, scholars, reporters, donors, conference participants, speakers, visiting fellows and faculty, and our great staff, who make the Shorenstein Center a collegial and vibrant community. And to the Shorenstein family and many donors I have gotten to know this year, a special thank you for your confidence and your support. I look forward to expanding the Shorenstein Center in many directions over the coming years, and will rely on all of you for advice and assistance.
Shorenstein Center Director