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UC Berkeley J-School, Rosenberg Foundation Launch California Immigration Reporting Project

Project establishes fund for grants for working journalists

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Rosenberg Foundation and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of  Journalism today announced the launch of a one-year pilot project dedicated to deepening and expanding news media coverage of key immigration issues in California.

Funded with by a grant from Rosenberg, the Immigration Reporting Project will feature expert instruction in immigration issues for graduate student journalists, including a speaker series and travel funding for reporting stories around the state. The project will also establish a $30,000 fund to support professional journalists in producing immigration related stories in the state.

“Few issues in our time demand better reporting than immigration,” said the school’s dean, Neil Henry. “Thanks to the Rosenberg Foundation, young journalists will receive background learning from campus experts in law, economics, and other fields to inform their reporting. With the additional funding for professional reporters, the public service impact of this specialized journalism will be that much greater. It’s very exciting work.”

With more than a quarter of the state’s population born abroad —  twice the national average — California continues to confront tremendous linguistic and cultural diversity, along with challenges involved in the integration of immigrants into its economic and political life.  Immigration is one of the most debated, divisive, and widely misunderstood issues by both journalists and the public, in California and nationwide. The decline of mainstream American newsrooms over the past decade, and the rise of the Internet, have created a growing and pressing need for stronger public interest reporting on all topics, including immigration.

“As the news industry suffers from contraction and severe cuts in staff and resources, non-profit news organizations and schools of journalism like Berkeley’s are stepping in to fill the gap,” said Timothy Silard, Rosenberg Foundation president. “This new project represents an innovative model on how philanthropy can fuel intensive background learning on a pressing public interest issue, leading to new and original reporting that can lead to improved public understanding and policy making.”

The Immigration Reporting Project intends to produce comprehensive and compelling features, analyses and investigative stories to better inform civic discussion and official debate. Journalists will explore a host of timely issues that may include: immigration enforcement by local law authorities; immigrant legal rights; the impact of immigrants on state and local economies; and the roles of immigrants and their children in California’s political landscape. The Project will produce work in all media formats, and disseminate stories to mainstream, online, ethnic and other media throughout the state. After the pilot year, the Rosenberg Foundation and Berkeley’s school of journalism will explore extending the initiative through additional funding from foundations and private donors.

The Project will commence in December 2010, with a call for queries from journalists for funding to support their work on immigration stories. The launch of the project will follow an intensive four-day institute for professional journalists on covering immigration, hosted November 14-17 by Berkeley’s school of journalism and the Warren Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law. Titled “Change the Face of America: Going Beyond the Rhetoric on Immigration,” the institute was made possible by a grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies in partnership with the New York Times Company Foundation.

About UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism:

The Graduate School of Journalism is a two-year professional school offering specialized training print, photography, radio, television, documentary film and multimedia. With approximately 110 students, the school is one of the few in the United States with a curriculum focused entirely on journalism. The school has been a leader in teaching multimedia to students and the industry and operates three community news sites in underserved portions of the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, please visit

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