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Northeastern gets Knight Foundation grant to launch media innovation program

Northeastern University’s School of Journalism has received a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help launch a graduate program focused on media innovation.

Beginning in the fall, the school plans to enroll experienced media professionals who will devote much of their studies to nonjournalism subjects, such as computer science and game design. The unorthodox curriculum is a response to technological advances that have made skills like managing large data sets and creating interactive infographics as important to contemporary news reporting as writing and interviewing.

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“Today’s journalists must not only report and write the news, but also deliver stories in print and online, and supplement them with images, audio, and video,” said Xavier Costa, dean of Northeastern’s College of Arts, Media and Design.

Students will work on long-term projects of their choosing, with the aim to be published or aired by major news outlets. They also will serve as collaborators on projects inside and outside the university, such as Homicide Watch, a crime-tracking initiative started in Washington, D.C., that is attempting to create a database of Boston murders.

Northeastern will begin by offering media innovation as an alternative to the professional track in its master of arts in journalism program and plans to develop innovation into a separate degree program starting in the 2015-2016 academic year, said Jeff Howe, an assistant professor who will direct the new course of study.

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