The Princeton Summer Journalism Program was founded in 2002 by Richard Just, Michael Koike, Gregory Mancini and Rich Tucker — four alumni of the Princeton University Class of 2001 and editors for the Daily Princetonian. Their goal was to diversify college and professional newsrooms, where women, people of color, and from lower-income and middle-class backgrounds had been historically underrepresented. Today, despite innovations in technology, the expansion of social media platforms, and increased attention to diversity, this need is arguably more crucial than ever.
The Princeton Summer Journalism Program has thrived primarily under the tireless work of a team of dedicated volunteers who work as professional journalists and believe in the mission of the organization. For the first 16 years, the program chose a group of 25 students to sponsor for its 10-day journalism experience. PSJP received valuable administrative and technical support from two undergraduate interns hired each year through the Princeton Internships in Civic Service. It also benefited from guidance from the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, whose staff housed and supervised the interns.
In 2017, thanks to additional support from the Princeton Office of the Provost, the program expanded to welcome 40 students to campus. Later that year, PSJP moved into its new home in the Office of the Dean of the College at Princeton University and hired its first year-round employee. Now, in collaboration with the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP), PSJP is an official partner in the University's mission to support first-generation and low-income (FLI) students "to, through, and beyond" four-year college completion.
Why We Exist
Broadly speaking, students from low-income and first-generation backgrounds and students of color are underrepresented on college campuses. Additionally, disparities persist in the hiring practices at major news outlets across the nation, where racial minorities make up less than a quarter of all journalists overall. The representation at daily newspapers is even lower, with people of color comprising just over 13% of staff. Even at publications in major cities, where there is greater community diversity, people of color comprise less than one third of news staff, on average. Gender disparities also persist. A 2017 report by the Women’s Media Center found that men produced more than 60% of content at 20 of the nation’s top publications. Thus, in an age where access to information is more widespread than ever in our history, we find significant segments of the population being excluded from opportunities to report on the news, to share their perspective, and to even decide which stories get told.
PSJP exists to bridge pathways for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds with an interest in journalism. During our 10-day summer program, we expose students to the range of opportunities available in the field of journalism, introduce them to the basic skills they need to report for their own newspaper and produce a short documentary, take them to visit major news outlets in NYC, and present different perspectives about the kinds of post-secondary preparation required for the work. After they leave campus, students are paired with a college counselor and professional journalist who helps guide them through the admissions process to selective colleges and universities.
However, the impact of PSJP extends far beyond the immediate services provided. Through the Princeton Summer Journalism Program, students are encouraged to think critically about the world around them and the role of information in shaping our democracy. They consider new ways to use their voice and its reach to empower themselves and others. They also immerse themselves in a network of writers, editors, videographers, photographers, and other journalists at some of the most respected publications in the field who are committed to the mission of diversifying the profession. Visit our outcomes page to learn more about our successes.