UGA Wins Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism
ATHENS, Ga. The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication won a major endowment grant to create an innovative Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism.The grant will allow the Grady College to develop and teach undergraduate and master’s courses in health and medical journalism and create an outreach program aimed at improving the flow of health news to the Southern Black Belt, a rural strip of more than 600 counties winding through 11 states, home to a third of the nation’s 34.6 million poor.Trustees of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded the $1.5 million chair to Georgia at its June board meeting. The university has pledged $1.9 million to support the chair activities.“To live as long as they might, Americans need access to the best health news and information,” said Eric Newton, director of Journalism Initiatives at the Knight Foundation.The Knight endowment enables the Grady College to hire a renowned working journalist who will be a tenured classroom innovator and news industry leader in health and medical journalism. “The Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism is a magnificent contribution to journalism and mass communication education for Georgia students and journalists across the country,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “This will add immeasurably to the already strong health communication program at the Grady College and to UGA’s commitment to improving the health of all Georgians.”Journalism plays an essential role in fostering public health by warning of health threats, reporting research findings, monitoring public health agencies and explaining health policies, Adams said.Dr. John Soloski, dean of the Grady College, said the Knight Professor will improve public health by strengthening communication among health professionals, journalists and the public on such emerging threats as bio-terrorism and the spread of SARS, West Nile virus and other infectious diseases. “The need for accurate, understandable health information is particularly acute in the consistently impoverished counties in the Southern Black Belt,” Soloski said. UGA is located in the center of the bioscience corridor between Atlanta and Augusta. The holder of the Knight Chair will partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Medical College of Georgia, the Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University and other institutions to develop programs to improve media coverage of health issues. The college will begin its search for the position in January 2005.The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities. From 1990 through 2004, the foundation has established 18 Knight Chairs in Journalism at major U.S. colleges and universities, investing $27 million in the program.
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