University of Florida Appoints Knight Chair in Journalism Technologies and the Democratic Process

Published: May 26th, 1999

Category: Memos

Terry Hines, Ph.D., Dean

Melinda (Mindy) McAdams has been appointed the first Knight Chair in Journalism Technologies and the Democratic Process at the University’s College of Journalism and Communications.

As Knight Chair, McAdams will design and teach undergraduate and graduate courses and conduct research focusing on how technologies used to gather, analyze and disseminate news contribute to journalism’s role in developing a more informed citizenry.

Also as Knight Chair, McAdams will engage in public service activities linking the college and its programs with journalism professionals locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

“Mindy is an ideal person for this position,” said Terry Hynes, dean of the College of Journalism and Communications. “She has broad and deep experience in journalism and new communications technologies. She cares deeply about journalism’s essential role in building democracy. And she is thoughtful about the ways in which various communications technologies can be used to enhance or detract from journalism’s core function of providing people with the information they need to govern themselves.”

The Knight Chair was created in 1997 with a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant was supplemented with a State of Florida match of $1.2 million. Income from the total endowment is used to fund the Knight Chair.

“My challenge in this position will be to keep up with new technologies that affect journalism, democracy and the people’s right to know — focusing not on the technologies themselves so much as on what effects they have,” McAdams said.

“The Internet provides people with thousands of places to get information other than relying on their local newspaper or TV or radio stations. This is just one of many ways the world is changing as a result of new technologies. Journalists and the news media need to be vigilant, not complacent or resistant, in confronting these changes.”

McAdams is the Web strategist for the American Press Institute in Reston, Virginia, where she tracks trends related to the newspaper industry and online media. She also conducts presentations for API, residential seminars for newspaper editors and executives, and develops programs and content for API Seminars Online.

Prior to joining API in 1997, McAdams was a content developer and member of the team that created Digital Ink, The Washington Post’s first online newspaper service. She also worked as a copy editor for the Metro section and Page One of The Washington Post and previously was a copy editor for Time magazine (five years) and Dell Publishing Company (two years). In addition, McAdams spent four years as copy chief and copy/production editor for Fairchild Publications’ MIS Week, a weekly business newspaper covering the computer and telecommunications industries.

McAdams also developed and taught a course in magazine copy editing for the Management Institute of New York University. She worked briefly as a producer for Prodigy Services Corp., where she wrote, edited, built, formatted and tested new features for online services.

McAdams is co-author of The Internet Handbook for Writers, Researchers and Journalists, first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Quill, The Editorial Eye, Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine and Media (the magazine of the Canadian Association of Journalists). During 1996, she wrote a monthly column in American Journalism Review’s online edition, “Digital Feed.”

McAdams also has conducted workshops and seminars in the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Canada, and Britain.

McAdams earned the M.A. degree in media studies from the New School for Social Research in New York. She earned the B.A. degree in journalism from The Pennsylvania State University.

The University of Florida’s Knight Chair is one of only 12 chairs created by the Knight Foundation throughout the United States since 1990. The Knight Foundation’s intent is to create such chairs at the top journalism programs in order to strengthen journalism education by bolstering core curricular values and encouraging innovation.

Established in 1950, the Knight Foundation makes national grants in journalism, education, and arts and culture. Its fourth program, community initiatives, is concentrated in 26 communities where the Knight brothers published newspapers, but the Foundation is wholly separate from and independent of those newspapers. Since 1954, the Knight Foundation has made grants of more than $100 million supporting its historic goals of journalistic excellence and defense of a free press. In 1998, the Knight Foundation had assets of $1.25 billion and made grant payments of $45.7 million.

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