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Alex S. Jones, longtime director of the Kennedy School of Government’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, will leave his position in July, the center announced on Tuesday.
Jones joined the center in 2000, making him its longest-serving director, according to Nancy Palmer, the center’s executive director. Before coming to Harvard, Jones was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The New York Times and a host for NPR’s “On the Media” and PBS’s “Media Matters.”
“When I became director of the Shorenstein Center, it was called the Shorenstein Center of the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, and it reflected that the focus was on the traditional news media,” Jones said. “In the 15 years since, the world has changed dramatically. Now, the media encompasses much more than the traditional media.”
Jones said that during his tenure, the Shorenstein Center evolved in the face of disruptive 21st century technological advances but still maintained its focus on “high-quality journalism and journalistic values,” which he referred to as the “spiritual and moral role” that the Center occupies.
Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood ’75, who himself is leaving at the end of the academic year, said that it is this vision for the future balanced with a strong passion for ethics that is most striking about Jones.
“This is a man who believes deeply that the role of a free press is absolutely vital for the accountability, for the success, for providing meaning in democracy,” Ellwood said.
Ellwood pointed to the promotion of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting as one of Jones’s most notable achievements. Kennedy School professor Thomas E. Patterson said that Jones took the Goldsmith awards “to another level,” raising their prestige to just below that of the Pulitzer Prize and “meticulously” ensuring their integrity and subjectivity.
Palmer also pointed to Jones’s work in securing the center’s financial future and his work towards the Journalist’s Resource website as key milestones of his career.
Reflecting on the future of the center, Jones said that its “mission will be to stay relevant in a world that’s going to be changing in ways we can’t be sure of.”
As for himself, Jones said that while he has no explicit plan for the future yet, he is confident he will figure it out.
“I’m filled with gratitude to have the honor and the opportunity to have been the director of this center,” he concluded.
Ellwood said he intends to start the search process for Jones’s successor shortly.
“These things usually take a significant amount of time, and we’ll see who we find and where we are in the process as the transition to the new dean comes,” he said.
—Staff writer Luca F. Schroeder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @lucaschroeder.
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