WJC Became Important Part of NPF
Julius Duscha, director of the Washington Journalism Center for two decades, died on July 2 in San Francisco at 90. For many years the Center was the only source of non-university training for U.S. mid-career journalists.
Duscha was a reporter at The Washington Post from 1958 to 1966, rising to the post of chief national political reporter. After leaving the Post he served as assistant director of the Stanford University Professional Journalism Program before returning to Washington to head up the newly formed Washington Journalism Center, which he served for 22 years. He retired in 1990.
“Julius was a warm and wise mentor for me at the Washington Journalism Center,” Chuck Lewis, for many years the Washington Bureau Chief for Hearst Newspapers, wrote in a tribute. “His insights and high standards have guided my career ever since. I consider myself fortunate to have learned from him.”
The Washington Journalism Center was established in 1965 by W.M. Kiplinger, the respected newsletter and magazine editor who believed that reporters and editors needed time away from the pursuit of daily deadlines to sit back, talk to authorities and come to a deeper understanding of issues than the daily grind provided.
The Center was set up as an independent 501(c)3 educational organization, a rarity in those days. Seed money was provided by the Kiplinger Foundation, and enlightened corporations and foundations, as well.
“What Julius did was navigate a transition from one stage of journalism to another,” said Austin H. Kiplinger, who led the WJC after his father’s death. “Journalism does not stand still, if it ever did. Julius was very effective in this.”
Julius constantly adapted the model of WJC fellowships and programs to meet the needs of journalism and the public at large. The earliest fellows came for lengthy residences in Washington, often a semester or academic year at a time. Some journalists worked on projects; others did not.
In the wake of national racial civil unrest, the Ford Foundation asked the WJC to develop training programs for African-American journalists to assist their advancement in the field. The grant lasted five years.
Duscha made a point of recruiting women journalists to the program, seeing them as underrepresented in the field. And he brought in television journalists as well, because he saw how news gathering and delivery were changing.
Whatever the format, or project, Julius used his superb knowledge of Washington and its players to arrange off-the-record meetings with Supreme Court Justices, Senate and House committee chairmen, chairmen of the Joint Chiefs and individual Service chiefs, and many mere Washington mortals.
Such meetings were usually held in the mornings, with discussions and research taking place in the afternoons. There are some former fellows who have wonderful memories of those conversations taking place at the exclusive Cosmos Club, whose elite members include journalists, scientists and explorers. Perhaps a glass of beer or a martini was served as the discussions took place, along with an endless supply of potato chips.
During Julius’ tenure, styles and attitudes in journalism changed, along with its funding mechanisms. Editors across the country who once found the off-the-record briefings fascinating now felt that sources should be on the record whenever possible, because “off-the-record” was an “inside the Beltway” concept, not necessarily a good thing.
Journalists could no longer be sprung for six or eight months; so shorter programs were developed — eventually settling in at three or four days, and focused on a very specific topic.
Finally, changing forces in the news business disrupted the funding flow that had supported the programs for nearly two decades. By the mid-1980’s many corporations and non-profits supported both the WJC and the National Press Foundation — a 501(c)3 that been set up as an independent organization in 1975. With economic disruptions in the news industry — decreasing circulation, increased cost of news print, staff cutbacks— many of those same organizations reduced funding to each organization and many eventually pulled out altogether.
Julius retired from WJC in 1990, as negotiations had begun for a merger of the WJC and NPF. That merger was completed in 1993, and I was hired that spring to begin work on July 3. It was my great good fortune that Julius was in Washington that year from his home in San Francisco, and we had a terrific afternoon together at the Cosmos Club comparing notes on how to organize programs, what had worked in his day and what I would have to do now.
Knowing Julius’ reputation for the highest quality programs, I was first apprehensive, and then thrilled, to discover that my in-room style was identical to his. Once we had introduced the speakers by giving a brief bio, we sat in the back, out of the way, so the reporters, editors and producers only focused on the speakers. If the speakers were going on too long (trust me, it happens), as directors we would call for questions from the journalists, so the speakers didn’t get a free ride in pushing their point of view.
That day at the Cosmos Club, the potato chips went down very smoothly indeed.
Julius Duscha played an important role in the development of journalism education in this country, and in the skills and knowledge of thousands of journalists. It is customary to say in an appreciation that he will be missed. That’s very true. But his presence will always be felt.
“This has always been my dream.” Chef Kevin Willmann created Farmhaus restaurant in St. Louis to showcase his passion for using the freshest ingredients grown locally.
Willmann’s food represents the bounty of the region with ingredients grown in Missouri and Illinois and from the Mississippi River that flows between the two states. He espouses a “nose to tail” philosophy, using every part of the animal on his menu. Willmann prepared a six-course dinner for National Press Foundation journalists who traveled to St. Louis to learn about food and farm sustainability. With each course, the chef discussed the local derivation of the ingredients.
Watch NPF’s Q&A with the chef here:
The Inevitable Food Contamination Outbreak
We love to eat, yet there is an inevitable yuck factor in the food supply chain: poop-contaminated beef or salmonella-tainted cantaloupe or listeria-laced ice cream.
*48 million Americans get sick each year from contaminated food. That’s one in six.
*Of those, 128,000 wind up in the hospital. About 3,000 die.
*1,000 foodborne outbreaks cost $3 billion a year in health care. Throw in lost productivity, and that cost reaches $15 billion.
Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases, said the good news is that the incidence of many foodborne illnesses has stabilized, such as listeria and salmonella.
However, vibrio is on the rise. The virulent bacteria is most often found in shellfish, and about half of infections are fatal. Tauxe called it the “E. coli of the sea,” noting that the subtropical bacteria has moved up the coast; even Alaska has reported an outbreak.
“The waters they (fish) live in are getting warmer and warmer over time,” he said.
One promising note: Tauxe said bacteria DNA can now be sequenced, just like human DNA, creating an important tool to investigate outbreaks. The cost is now less than $100.
Some resources for journalists to cover the next foodborne illness outbreak:
*CDC’s PulseNet which tracks molecular fingerprinting of food contaminations
*USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service
*CDC’s online database for foodborne outbreaks
Butterfly, Fly Fly Away
Unfortunately, the Monarchs have done just that.
Two decades ago, a billion Monarch butterflies made their glorious, arduous journey from Mexico to Texas and Oklahoma. “The most spectacular insect phenomenon that we know,” according to Jeff Trandahl, CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Last year, only 56 million butterflies made the migration, an alarming decline that captured the government’s attention. The Fish and Wildlife Service went to Trandahl and asked the foundation to make an effort to turn around the butterfly loss before it fell to endangered species levels.
The foundation pulled together a $4 million fund from various funders, including Monsanto, for grants to help revive the Monarch. It has received 115 requests seeking a total of $19 million; decisions will be made in September, Trandahl said.
Some have pointed fingers at Monsanto’s Roundup as a factor in the demise of the Monarch. Trandahl said the number one reason is loss of habitat, particularly the milkweed plant where the butterflies lay their eggs.
“It’s not a collision between agriculture and conservation. It’s not this or that. It’s how can we work together,” Trandahl told NPF journalists.
The National Press Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides free professional development programs to journalists to increase their knowledge of complex issues. NPF seeks an intern to assist staff with varied projects. Responsibilities include:
• Assist the media team in the continued maintenance of National Press Foundation’s social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
• Assist the Digital Media Manager in video and audio production using the Adobe Creative Suite.
• Complete research for special projects and compile metrics and data when needed.
• Support Program Manager with logistical planning for all journalist training programs.
• Assist with all general needs of the National Press Foundation office.
NPF is looking for a candidate with an interest and/or background in journalism and digital media who is willing to take on diverse projects. This is a great opportunity for the right candidate to gain quality, hands-on work experience and be an integral part of our small staff. Applicants should be aware that this position involves a variety of tasks that are more administrative and desk heavy. The intern should be self-motivated and eager to take initiative, and add personal detail and creativity to each task. Interns are welcome to attend any and all local NPF journalist training programs. The right candidate could be an upper-level undergraduate, graduate student, recent graduate or young professional looking to gain more experience.
Additional Qualifications Needed:
• Experience with Adobe Creative Cloud Suite/Final Cut Pro 7/Microsoft Office
• Taking initiative on creative projects
• Experience in Wordpress and html a plus
• Strong research and writing skills
• Interest in business and digital marketing
• Interest in journalism preferred
NPF is looking for an intern to start sometime in August. Internship may last until December 2015 or may be extended into the spring should both the intern and NPF be agreeable. Full-time hours (40 hours per week) are preferred but part-time will be considered. A stipend will be provided, $1900 per month for full time work or less for part-time work.
To apply, please email a resume and cover letter to email@example.com. All application materials will be considered on a rolling basis until August1.