Tag Archives: Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Humphrey Fellow Anubha Bhonsle: Memorable Moments

Humphrey Fellow Anubha Bhonsle (India).

Editor’s Note: Indian Journalist Anubha Bhonsle was chosen by her fellow Humphrey Fellows at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism to deliver a speech during their graduation ceremony May 13. With her permission, we’re reprinting Anubha’s comments here because they so represent what our Fellows experienced during their year here in College Park and Knight Hall.

Thanks to Director Serap Rada and Assistant Director Marisa Osorio who nurtured and guided the Fellows this past year.

Learn more about the Humphrey Fellows Program on the Merrill College website.


Fulbright Humphrey Fellowship 2015-16 Graduation Ceremony Comments
By Anubha Bhonsle (India)

Many of you, perhaps most of you have been here at this event before, felicitating and sharing this day with previous batches of Fulbright Humphrey Fellows. Perhaps you know this day and what this year has been for us as intimately as we do. Perhaps you also know what’s in store for us after this Fellowship better than us. I have a long list of ‘thank you’s and I want to leave it for the end. But just to start, thank you to everyone who is here today sharing this moment with us.

I speak here today not as Anubha Bhonsle, not as a citizen of India, not even as a journalist but as part of a collective, representing the voice of the 10 of us who undertook this whirlwind of a journey together. These 10-odd months have meant very different things to each of us, yet a strong common thread binds us.

This has been a time of reflection for many of us, we have found the freedom to explore, experiment, learn and unlearn. At times we found ourselves stretched and in situations we had never imagined. We have had the good fortune of meeting intellectuals, academics, teachers who have been so generous with their knowledge, thoughts and experiences. And through learning from them, we have learnt not just more about the rest of the world but also more about ourselves. We are grateful for the experience, perhaps a condensed one, perhaps a bit of a bubble but one we are aware not everyone gets to experience.

We hope we have given back in equal measure as we received.

About 10-months ago, when we first met on the 16th of August as a group, we were almost strangers, we knew nothing about each other, perhaps just email IDs or we may have Googled each other. Like parents drop children off for their first day at school our host families dropped us to a point where we were all going to meet and greet each other for the first time. Serap brought sandwiches. We have come a long way since then. We made a family with people we knew nothing about. We made a home literally out of nothing. We have received great understanding and trust. There have been disagreements, debates, we have found ourselves on opposing sides, our countries, our cultural contexts, our diversity, where we grew up have all played a part. We go back to our respective countries knowing the world a little better.

We also go back with great friendships, not just amongst the 10 of us but with Fellows from other campuses and the many American friends we made.

The 2015-2016 Humphrey Fellows Class at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.There have been many memorable moments, when Jianglong met President Carter and as a true blue journalist was the only one who managed a picture with him, or when Ioana started working with the National Endowment for the Arts which we all know is a deep passion for her. Hasan’s first byline at CNN was a proud moment for all. Every time that Khim intervened during our work on climate change we knew here was a man who was speaking from a sense of rigor and experience. Sharmilla covered the Sundance, had her piece selected and performed at the South Asian adaptation of the Vagina Monologues and I am privy to the fact that she is very proud of the multimedia skills she picked up here. Wade is a strong, passionate advocate for the highest standards of journalism and we have had our head high every time she represented us in panels and talks. We have come to know a lot about Azer’s work and his strong business sense and we know have a Murdoch in making here.

There is little that Nanythe hasn’t done or cannot do to our mind. She published a book of poetry, translated it in English, which is a language she learnt here. Her photography has earned her kudos in her class, among her teachers. And Marat is a thorough gentleman, for those of us who saw him at workshops, articulating strengths, challenges or issues, one could only swell with pride that we share this Fellowship with him. If you ever find yourself on the other side of a negotiating table with Marat, I wish you good luck. I have had memorable moments that started with my book being published and went on to my work here on gender.

You have had a role to play in all these moments and we thank you.

I also take this opportunity and thank the US State Department for funding the Hubert Humphrey program. We know the American public has a stake here and we hope our time here has contributed to a greater mutual understanding. We thank the IIE for administering the program and for looking out for the nuts and bolts. Thank you to the University of Maryland and Philip Merrill College of Journalism for hosting us.

This has been a fabulous setting for our learning process. I’d like to say a special thanks to the Dean Lucy Dalglish for hosting the HHH program but also for a wonderful session she did with us. Also to the Graduate School for providing tuition awards that allowed us to take classes and participate in the intellectual environment the University offers. We have had fabulous teachers who have been forthcoming with their ideas and knowledge and have been mindful of the experience we brought to the table. We embedded ourselves in many professional organizations and we thank them for trusting our skills and us.

I want to thank each one of our host families for giving us love and affection. You were our first window to America when you picked us from the airport last year and you have opened your home and your heart to us. We will remain forever thankful. There are teachers and professors we must thank, who went far out of their way. Leslie Walker, Dana Priest, Lily Ciric Hoffman and Adrianne (Flynn), you have been generous with your knowledge and advice.

Many of our fellows have had speaking partners who have been gracious and patient. Thank you, from many of the families who joined the Fellows on this journey. It has been a beautiful time for them as well. Last but not the least Marisa, we know we are your first batch and we’ll be special. But thank you for your friendship and for everything you did for us.

And finally, Serap, there isn’t a thing you said that hasn’t come true in the last 10 months. Thank you for investing so much of your time, energy on us. Thank you, for thinking of everything. And I know this has been repeated but we know we will be your all time favorite batch.

Anubha Bhonsle is a 2015-16 Humphrey Fellow from India.

Anubha Bhonsle is a 2015-16 Humphrey Fellow from India.

About Anubha Bhonsle

Anubha Bhonsle (India) Resized Anubha Bhonsle copy 2 (1)is an award-winning journalist and author. She has wide ranging experience working on issues of politics, gender, conflict and development. In recent years Anubha has reported extensively from areas of strife focusing on the intersection of civil society movements, gender, human rights and political protests. Her documentaries have been recognized nationally and internationally. She won some of India’s most prestigious journalism awards including the Ramnath Goenka Award for Politics, the Red Ink Award and more recently the Outstanding Woman Media Person Award for her body of work in 2014.

The Jury at the New York Film Festival has commended her reporting from Manipur, on the impact of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act. She is a founding member of CNN-IBN. In her role as Executive Editor, Anubha has led the station’s coverage of major news events reporting from the ground. She anchored several flagship news and documentary shows. She also leads a team that produces the much-acclaimed Citizen Journalist Show. Her first book, Mother, Where’s my Country, will be released in December 2015. During her Humphrey year, Anubha will explore the intersection of democracy, dissent and technology.

Wikid GRRLs Project Grows Its Success Thanks to FIA Seed Grant Program

Wikid GRRLs brings a free after-school program into Detroit Public Schools; photo credit: Stine Eckert

Wikid GRRLs brings a free after-school program into Detroit Public Schools; photo credit: Stine Eckert.

By Stine Eckert
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication
Wayne State University

Republished with permission from the FIA website.

Merrill College Note: Wikid GRRLs was born from the idea that girls can do great things if they are given the proper tools and training. In this case, then-Merrill College Ph.D. student Stine Eckert conceived of a program to train girls online skills – with a focus on learning how to use Wikipedia. We’ll let her tell the story in a bit. But the success of the program was enabled thanks to a UMD Future of Information Alliance seed grant in 2012.

Eckert built her team with Merrill College Professors – and mentors – Linda Steiner and Kalyani Chadha. To make it interdisciplinary, she added current Merrill Ph.D. student Joanna Nurmis plus Kristen Sabatini from the College of Education and Angelisa Plane from the Department of Computer Science.

The project’s success is also being honored by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication – where the first results will be reported during the AEJMC’s annual conference this summer in Minneapolis.

Eckert wrote about Wiked GRRLs for an FIA series looking at seed grant winners and where they are today. Be sure to check out the Wiked GRRLs website.


The Wikid GRRLs project began with an article in the New York Times in 2011 on Wikipedia’s gender gap, reporting that less than 15 percent of the contributors to the online encyclopedia are women. A huge gap, especially for a project aspiring to collect the “sum of all human knowledge.” I was intrigued to find out more about the reasons for this gap. Together with Linda Steiner, professor in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, I studied the background of this gender gap and the responses to it in online comments.

More than three quarters of commentators reasoned that Wikipedia’s gender gap matters as it might also be the last encyclopedia; yet, solutions were not easy to come by. One factor that we found particularly significant was that engagement with STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), including computer science, becomes increasingly gendered as kids grow older. Around middle school, students solidify the idea that somehow tinkering with computers is not for girls; their confidence in STEM-related skills is lower compared to boys.


While these two studies were being published, the first Future of Information Alliance (FIA) Seed Grant Competition was launched at the University of Maryland, with support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. This prompted us to design an intervention to teach middle school-aged girls online skills and to boost their confidence in working on the production side of computing. We assembled an interdisciplinary team of doctoral and undergraduate students and two faculty mentors, developed a curriculum for a ten-week after-school workshop, and secured partnerships with schools in Maryland. The hard work of organizing this all in a short time frame, including IRB-approval, paid off: We received one of the FIA seed grants!


We were overjoyed and went to work. During the spring of 2013 we launched Wikid GRRLS in four schools and taught 40 (mostly minority) girls lessons on coding, writing on a wiki platform, internet safety, netiquette, smart searching strategies, online polling, presenting with Prezi and more. Snacks helped to keep the girls going in the afternoons after a long school day. In the last session the girls presented their wiki articles and we rewarded them with a Wikid GRRLs certificate, thumb drive and lanyard. The pilot was a success; pre- and post-workshop surveys showed the girls had gained skills and confidence.

The Wikid GRRLs project demonstrates that FIA’s seed grant program is a highly valuable vehicle to spread the idea that information equity and literacy is a currency well worth investing in. – Associate Professor Stine Eckert

As I graduated and became an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University, I took the Wikid GRRLs project with me. After settling in and organizing a new structure at a new university, in a new city, Wikid GRRLs re-launched in 2015 at two Detroit Public Schools. Supported by two grants from Wayne State University, I recruited four honors students to teach the Wikid GRRLs curriculum in the fall semester of 2015. In turn, the honors students received credits for a service-learning requirement. It turned out that service learning is a focus at Wayne State University and Wikid GRRLs fit right into that spirit. Several mentors in the Department of Communication, the College of Education and the Honors College smoothed the way to turn Wikid GRRLs into an honors class, including research components for the undergraduate students.

Additionally, I became advisor to a new doctoral student, Jade Metzger, who became an invaluable assistant to get Wikid GRRLs off the ground in Detroit, to conduct interviews and surveys, and lead classroom discussions with the honors students on the gendered pay gap in STEM; the dearth of computer science classes in K-12 grades; and efforts and challenges to recruit more women into STEM fields. Again, the team effort made it possible to bring Wikid GRRLs to Detroit, thus far working with three schools and teaching about 25 overwhelmingly minority, middle school-aged girls who were enthusiastic participants.

Wayne State University honors student Emily Verde taught the Wikid GRRLs curriculum in the winter semester 2016 in a Detroit Public School; photo credit: Stine Eckert.

Wayne State University honors student Emily Verde taught the Wikid GRRLs curriculum in the winter semester 2016 in a Detroit Public School; photo credit: Stine Eckert.


While in Maryland it was relatively easy to convince schools to host Wikid GRRLs as a free after-school program; in Detroit the many financial and structural problems in the Detroit Public School system made it much more difficult to get schools involved with Wikid GRRLs. The three schools that welcomed Wikid GRRLs did so because of supportive principals and incredibly dedicated teachers to function as liaisons between our team and the participating girls, to allocate a lab and create a schedule. Without them the project would not have been possible. Neither would Wikid GRRLs have worked without the seven Wayne State University honors students and Jade who jumped into this adventure with me. The honors students learnt more about the intersections between gender and STEM and conducting research in the field; they gained confidence in teaching and became advocates for the Wikid GRRLs project at the annual FemTechNet conference in April 2016.

Yet, the best reward remains the participating girls’ joy in learning more about computers, their eagerness to express themselves in writing, their progress in online skills and increased confidence in working with wikis. We logged their progress in pre- and post-workshop interviews and surveys and are currently working to publish these results. Going forward, Wikid GRRLs needs to find new funds; update and expand its curriculum; and include a longitudinal element to track if participants’ immediate gains in skills and confidence translate into long-term benefits, for instance, choosing a STEM-related career, writing for Wikipedia or working on their own online projects.

The seed that the Future of Information Alliance sowed with Wikid GRRLs more than three years ago blossomed into a fruit that has benefited more than 65 (overwhelmingly minority) girls, nine undergraduate students, three graduate students and three faculty members. The Wikid GRRLs project demonstrates that FIA’s seed grant program is a highly valuable vehicle to spread the idea that information equity and literacy is a currency well worth investing in.


The Future of Information Alliance – the FIA – was launched at the University of Maryland in 2011 to identify opportunities and challenges in the constantly changing information landscape and to serve as a catalyst for discussion, research, and action – on campus and beyond.

What is unusual about the FIA is the degree to which its base is broadly inclusive, on campus and beyond. Every one of the dozen colleges and schools at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus is involved. This is manifest in the support of the deans, the makeup of the FIA’s “brainstorming board,” and the participation of hundreds of students, faculty and staff in FIA events and initiatives. That sort of enthusiastic involvement also extends out to a group of 10 Founding Partners, including some of the leading cultural and governmental institutions in the nation and the region.

With generous new support from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, the FIA is enabling students, through an interdisciplinary seed grant program, to play a role in shaping that future with their innovative ideas and clever research, under the guidance of faculy mentors and in collaboration with the FIA’s Founding Partners.

The FIA is also expanding ITS “Visiting Future-ist” program – with support from the Deutsch Foundation, the University, and our Founding Partners – by creating venues for exchanging ideas with leading innovators on a broad array of timely topics — the proliferation of experiments in online education, novel uses of crowdsourcing, explorations of “big data,” the use of new information technologies to preserve and enhance cultural heritage, and the twin themes of peril and promise associated with the both global and personal dimensions of networking.


The FIA seed grant program ran from 2012 to 2015.   Co-Director and Merrill College Professor Ira Chinoy says the organization is now in the process of putting up posts (like the one above) that follow up on the teams.  He added, “We are also hoping to secure funding for future seed grant programs since this one was such a plus for those involved – and clearly now for others who are benefiting, including the Detroit school girls who are participating in the latest iteration of the program and Stine’s students at Wayne State who are involved in keeping the project going.”

Find out more about the FIA and its many programs on the FIA website.

Six Merrill Students Win Dow Jones News Fund Paid Internships

Dow Jones News Fund logo courtesy of DJNF.

Adapted from a Dow Jones News Fund press release.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –  Six Merrill College students have been named Dow Jones News Fund interns for the summer – part of a cohort of 97 college journalism students from around the U.S. who will work as data and digital journalists, business reporters and news editors at 49 leading news organizations. In a press release, the News Fund says it received more than 900 applications for the internships.

The summer internship program will support eight training sites at leading journalism schools in May and June. The interns will train for one week before reporting to work for at least 10 weeks at salaries starting at $400 per week. Those returning to college receive $1,000 scholarships.

Merrill College students include:

Morgan Eichensehr ’16 and Jacqueline Tanner ’16 who will train with the ACBJ Business Reporting Program at New York University June 5-10;
Amanda Eisenberg ’16 and Jacob Bell ’16 who will train with the DJNF Business Reporting Program at New York University May 29-June 5;
Marissa Horn ’16 who will train at the Centers for Editing Excellence at Temple University from May 19 to May 28;
Jason Dobkin ’17 who will train at the University of Missouri from May 25 to June 4.

This summer’s program saw a significant increase in new media partners with the introduction of the Fund’s data journalism program. Investigative Reporters and Editors will train eight journalists at the University of Missouri to obtain and analyze data, code and visualize information and other computer-assisted reporting methods. The media partners participating in the inaugural program are: The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, inewsource, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Honolulu Civil Beat and McClatchy DC.

Additionally, News Fund alumni were instrumental in the growth of the business reporting program. Garry D. Howard, director of corporate initiatives at American City Business Journals and an alumnus of the 1981 editing program, expanded ACBJ’s business reporting program from eight to 10 interns this year. Scott Wenger, Group Editorial Director at SourceMedia and a 1984 alumnus, enlisted four SourceMedia business-to-business publications to host News Fund interns.Among returning national and regional news media partners are The New York Times, The Journal Media Group, TheStreet, Inc., The Denver Post, Advertising Specialty Institute, Thomson Reuters, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, MSN, Brightwire, The Buffalo News, The Journal News and the Kansas City Star.

RTDNF Creates New Scholarship Honoring First Eaton Broadcast Chair Lee Thornton

Lee Thornton in the Journalism studio, Richard Eaton Broadcast Center in the Tawes Fine Arts Building. Shot 7/31/2006

From an RTDNF Press Release dated May 11, 2017.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – RTDNF is proud to announce the creation of the Lee Thornton Journalism Scholarship. Thornton’s estate has pledged $50,000 to endow a scholarship in her name.

Lee Thornton was the first African-American woman to cover the White House for a major news network (CBS) and the first African-American host of All Things Considered on National Public Radio. Later in her career, she taught at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and served a year as the school’s interim dean. She held a master’s degree from Michigan State University and a doctorate in mass communications from Northwestern University.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to honor Lee Thornton and help journalism students reach their potential,” said Amy Tardif, RTDNF Chair. “She was a trailblazing journalist and beloved educator who will be long remembered.”

“She was a broadcasting pioneer who inspired so many who came after her,” added Mike Cavender, RTDNF Executive Director. “We are pleased to be able to carry her legacy into the future.”

Beginning in 2017, a scholarship will be awarded annually to an undergraduate journalism student; one of a dozen scholarships and fellowships administered by RTDNF each year. The application process for the Foundation’s currently offered scholarships is under way now. More information and application details can be found on our scholarship information page.

RTDNF, a 501 (c) 3 educational foundation, was created to help RTDNA members embody and uphold the standards of ethical journalism and promote leadership in the newsroom. RTDNF offers the electronic news community professional development opportunities, an open forum for the discussion of ethics, assistance with the development of leadership skills, support of First Amendment issues and the exchange of ideas and perspectives from electronic journalists worldwide. The Foundation also provides scholarships and fellowships to aspiring and early-career electronic journalists.

Merrill College, ASNE Sponsor Cybersecurity Workshop

Cyber Security Workshop Agenda

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Philip Merrill College of Journalism will host an ASNE Cybersecurity Workshop June 3-4 in Knight Hall. The workshop is a one-of-its-kind event designed to help journalists cover cybersecurity issues in the most practical way.

The brainchild of Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism Dana Priest, the workshop is made possible by the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative.

Register today and receive a $300 travel, hotel and transportation reimbursement. Slots limited by hands-on computer training.

Here’s What You’ll Learn:

*Learn how cyber thieves steal the government’s secrets and yours too.

*Learn to report on cyber warfare, intrusions into banking, credit card, electricity companies

*Discover how ill-prepared police are to catch cyber stalkers

*See your digital exhaust and figure out how to explain it to readers/listeners/viewers

Designed to help journalists better understand, investigate, and explain cyber issues. We are behind the curve in this field of reporting.



Mark Lowenthal, former senior CIA officer and president of the Intelligence & Security Academy, which trains business and government executives in the mechanics and history of cyber hacking and exploitation

Ellen Nakashima, award-winning Washington Post cyber intel reporter, shares her experiences unearthing the dark world of cyber warfare and describes the state of cyber journalism today.

Ron Gula, former NSA penetration expert, CEO of Tenable Network Security and big thinker, talks industry warfare and sabotage, and how to penetrate this sensitive story.

Siobhan Gorman, former award-winning NSA reporter, Wall Street Journal, leads a story-brainstorming session.

Herb Lin, Stanford University cyber warfare expert dissects a recent attack and talks potential routes into these most difficult stories.

Michael Hamilton, former information security chief, city of Seattle, and head of Critical Informatics, Inc., explains the lack of state and local infrastructure defenses and law enforcement’s inability to stop cyber criminals.

Bruce Auster, NPR senior editor, explains how to map your digital exhaust.

Hasan Ehali, acclaimed artist and UMD scholar, on his artistic reaction to being questioned by the FBI as a suspected terrorist.

Ashley Messenger, NPR associate general counsel, on the challenges and best approaches to obtaining digital government records.

Patrick O’Shea, UMD.’s director of research, builds a philosophical framework for understanding our cyber world.

Lucy Dalglish, Dean, Merrill School of Journalism and nationally-recognized media rights lawyer, moderates.

Dana Priest, Knight Chair and award-winning Washington Post reporter, curated the workshop and moderates.

Co-sponsored by Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Place: Knight Hall, Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus.

Click here for directions

The deadline to make hotel reservations at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center (3501 University Blvd. E., Hyattsville, MD 20783) has expired, but there are still some rooms available at the same discounted rate of $119/night for single and $139/night for double. To book your room, please call Globetrotter Travel at 301-570-0800 or 800-322-7032 and ask for the cybersecurity block of rooms under the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Any cancellations must be made through the travel agency.

The Cybersecurity Workshop is funded by the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative whose goal is to “help develop a cybersecurity field capable of developing thoughtful, long-term solutions to the whole range of complex technical and public policy problems posed by the Internet.”