Harvard's Nieman Foundation announced yesterday the names of 13 American journalists who will study as fellows of the program at Harvard next year.
The foundation, which was founded in 1938, awards mid-career fellowships to journalists of "particular accomplishment and promise."
Many of this year's fellows, who are for the most part members of the print media, said they are interested in reflecting upon the nature of the political and social issues they cover as journalists.
Alice Pifer, 43, a producer for ABC News and the TV program "20/20," said yesterday she plans to study issues such as technology and politics.
"There has been such a change in the political scene," Pifer said. "I read the papers, and I'm a pretty informed person, and I see people form both sides asserting different information from both sides."
Pifer, who works behind the scenes on the show producing documentary and feature segments, said she hopes her time away from journalism will give her some perspective on the emerging ethical issues affecting the media.
"For instance, think of that Time magazine issue where they darkened O.J.'s face, "she said. "The fact that experienced, highly qualified people made that judgment is frightening."
Other newly named fellows also said their time away from their careers would help to give them perspective on the profession.
Mary Schmich, 41, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, said yesterday she is looking forward to the chance to relax from the pace of producing a biweekly column.
"[As a columnist], you often feel like you're operating in very superficial way and don't have any time to breathe," Schmich said. "To me this is a total luxury, a total indulgence. It's a chance to think and to breathe."
Other fellows said they had chosen to pursue a plan of study specifically suited to their reporting beat.
Joseph Williams, 32, a senior general assignment reporter at the Miami Herald, said yesterday he will study the relationship between race and the judicial system, issues he covered as a police and court reporter.
Sheryl McCarthy, 46, a columnist at New York News Day, said she will
"In the past couple of years, I've had a coupleof friends who have done one of the fellowshipprograms and they were all raving that this wasthe best year of their life," she said.
Patricia Guthrie, 36, a city editor and teamreporter for The Albuquerque Tribune, said shemade the decision to apply to the program forsimilar reasons. Guthrie, who has gained notorietyfor her stories on Native American alcoholism willbe working at the School of Public Health.