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THE NIEMAN BEQUEST: QUO VADIT? II

II

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Most obvious of the several alternatives for which the Nieman money might be used is a School of Journalism. With the new Graduate School of Public Administration now well underway, many persons see no reason why a similar set-up cannot be fabricated for journalism. The curriculum might be decided upon and courses planned in the same way innovated by the Littauer School, namely, by conference with newspapermen and authorities who know the needs of their particular field.

There are, however, two forceful arguments against this procedure. First, only about $40,000 will be available yearly as the interest income on the bequest, and this is a very small sum on which to operate a graduate school, much less to construct buildings. Second, graduate schools of journalism have not proved eminently successful in the past. The two chief schools at present, at Columbia and Missouri, doubtless produce capable men, but there is some question as to whether such men are sought after for newspaper jobs. Editors, it seems, still like to train their own men to fit their peculiar standards. For these two reasons, lack of proper finances and the questionable success of similar ventures, a Graduate School of Journalism does not seem to be the answer to Harvard's problem.

Another means of disposing of the money and yet remaining within the precepts of the will might be through some sort of prizes. Whether they be cash awards, honorary, or of the loving cup variety, such prizes would have to be patterned along the lines of the present Pulitzer Prizes, which are widely publicized and eagerly sought after by some journalists. Their appeal, however, is mainly to certain excellent papers already in existence, and again, it is highly problematical if such awards could actually "elevate the standards" of scandal sheets which are quite content to remain just that.

A set of "Nieman Prizes" from Harvard thus might bring brief glory to a few meritorious articles. But at best, they could only reward a small number of isolated cases. They would be an incentive to authors and those whose writing is of more than passing consequence, but as far as the reporter who dashes off perhaps ten hurried news stories a day and the editor who handles scores of such stories a day, it is difficult to see how more prizes could possibly improve their efforts. Prizes, then, incline to be too remote, too earmarked for the outstanding great, rather than for the scratchings of the mediocre.

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