The Maynard Institute: 25 Years and 2,000 Journalists Later: Its Innovative Training Programs Shape the Careers of Many Minority Journalists. (Nieman Notes)

Article excerpt

As the crystal chandeliers began to dim on the elegant Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City--a room that usually hosts heads of state, foreign diplomats, and the occasional wedding--the emcee had a difficult time hushing the crowd.

It wasn't because the nearly 400 journalists and media leaders dressed in semiformal evening attire were rude or inattentive. Rather it was that most of the distinguished crowd brought together this fall to honor the 25th anniversary of the nation's most influential diversity journalism training center were just as happy hanging out with their friends and colleagues, having another drink, and swapping stories. This was, after all, a family reunion.

This "family," and the thousands of journalists who have been touched by the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education over the past quarter century, is made up of professionals of every color, gender and background. Many have had their careers shaped by the institute's summer editing program or their lives changed by one of the institute's mid-career management programs.

Family Members

From KNBC president and general manager Paula Madison to former Associated Press Managing Editors' president Caesar Andrews, from current Nieman Fellow Ronnie Ramos--managing editor of The Fort Meyers News-Press--to San Jose Mercury News senior columnist Lisa Chung, the Maynard Institute has a long list of prestigious alumni, instructors and mentors. Distinguished journalists of color have emerged from Maynard programs and have gone on to run newsrooms around the country. Then they hire, promote and mentor others, passing the torch.

As a mid-career journalist, I had the chance to teach several years at the institute's summer editing program during the early 90's--at the time based at the University of Arizona in Tuscon. Despite the unforgiving heat of the desert (they kept saying it was only a "dry heat," but I didn't buy it) I found myself getting as much from the young copyeditors and assigning editors of all colors and backgrounds than I could ever give as a teacher. We'd spend long days reworking copy and going over page proofs and late nights sharing life stories at the local watering hole. The friendships formed during that time--Lewis Diuguid, now vice president of The Kansas City Star, was my roommate one year--have lasted a decade.

The pioneering Bob Maynard, his wife, Nancy Hicks Maynard, and seven other journalists founded the Maynard Institute in 1977. Bob was a world-class reporter and editor at The Washington Post and a Nieman Fellow, who later went on to be the first African-American owner of the Pulitzer Prizewinning Oakland Tribune, before he died in 1993. Many contend the Maynards, who had left prestigious jobs at The Washington Post and The New York Times to start the institute, were personally responsible for the creation or ascension of hundreds of African Americans and others in journalism during the past several decades.

Today, the Institute for Journalism Education is run by Bob's daughter, Dori J. Maynard, who was named in October as the institute's new president and CEO. Dori has been a reporter for The Bakersfield Californian, The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts, and at the Detroit Free Press, and when she became a Nieman Fellow in the fall of 1992, she and her dad became the first father/daughter fellows in the foundation's history.

Maynard Programs

Nearly 2,000 journalists and media professionals have been through one of the institute's many programs, which focus on management, editing, newsroom dynamics, and diversity:

* Management: The Maynard Institute holds an aggressive management training program at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Evanston, Illinois. …