On July 1, 2016, Nicco Mele became the director of the Shorenstein Center. He previously served as the Wallis Annenberg Chair in Journalism at the University of Southern California and is former senior vice president and deputy publisher of the Los Angeles Times.
Under Nicco Mele’s leadership, the Center aims to have impact on four distinct areas of focus—each of which are integral to maintaining a healthy democracy: news sustainability; platform accountability and misinformation; news quality; and news equity. The single-subject news project team produces original research on sustainable business models for the digital age, and works closely with legacy and emerging news organizations to put theories into practice. First Draft is a new initiative that joined the Center in 2017; it is a research and learning project designed to help newsrooms, scholars, fact-checkers and technology companies collaborate and encourage real-time verification of information on the social web. Journalist’s Resource enhances news quality by aiding journalists in learning to identify and use peer-reviewed research in their reporting. The Ida B. Wells Society is another new and important initiative at the Shorenstein Center, dedicated to increasing and retaining reporters and editors of color in the field of investigative reporting. Founded in 2015 by some of the top investigative reporters in the U.S., IBWS provides training on a variety of topics including data reporting, story pitching, and how to write compelling investigative narratives.
Today the Kennedy School’s Dean, Doug Elmendorf, oversees an institution with more than 900 students, 53 tenured faculty members and 11 research centers. Over the last 30 years, the Shorenstein Center has been one of the most active programs in the School and has hosted more than a thousand speakers, faculty seminars and conferences with leading journalists, policymakers and scholars from around the world.
The contemporary challenges facing the media and their role in a democratic society prove the value of the Center’s original vision and institutional mission. The interaction of the realms of media, politics and policy has never been more intense and consequential, and the need for productive collaboration of the academic and the practitioner never more palpable. In the coming years, the Center is committed to strengthening its dynamic mix of programs and participants, particularly fellows and faculty, as we engage the challenges of a rapidly changing media environment.