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  • Media Advisory
  • Date: April 11, 2005
    Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970; Steve Simon, 301-251-7952

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    Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist to Appear at Montgomery College
    Jan Schaffer to Speak about Blogs and the New Era of Journalism, April 19

    The Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement at Montgomery College will host a talk by Jan Schaffer, the executive director for J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, on the topic "From Beat Blogs to Moblogs: The Era of Participatory Journalism" on Tuesday, April 19, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm, in the Bliss Room, Commons Building, at Montgomery College’s Takoma Park Campus, 7600 Takoma Avenue, Takoma Park, Md.  This event is free and open to the public.  

    Schaffer is the former executive director of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, a journalism reform initiative that helped to fund more than 120 journalism projects.  These projects created new ways of reporting that engaged people with public life.  J-Lab is extending the Pew Center’s work by focusing on innovations in the use of information technology. It also administers the national Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism and New Voices, a pioneering program to seed innovative community news ventures in the United States.

    Schaffer, a former business editor and a Pulitzer Prize winner for The Philadelphia Inquirer, brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to her work.  In addition to funding demonstration projects, rewarding innovations and spotlighting best practices, she is involved in teaching, public speaking, writing, and sharing the lessons learned from the center’s projects.  A former journalism fellow at Stanford University, she is a regular discussion leader at the American Press Institute and has been a speaker and trainer for universities and professional journalism organizations.

    Schaffer joined The Inquirer in 1972 after earning a master's degree from Northwestern University. She held reporting and editing positions on the city desk, the national desk and the business news department.  As business editor, she directed the reporting and editing of two investigative series that were named finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, one on pharmaceutical pricing and one on abuses in the nation's non-profit sector.

    As a federal court reporter, she helped write a series of stories that won the freedom for a man wrongly convicted of five murders. The stories led to the civil rights convictions of the Philadelphia homicide detectives involved in the investigation. The articles won several national journalism awards, including the 1978 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service, the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Public Service Award, the Roy W. Howard Medal for Public Service, and the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel.  While covering federal courts, she also broke the Philadelphia Abscam story about the FBI sting operation that used agents posing as Arab sheiks. She was sentenced to jail for six months for refusing to reveal her sources, but the sentence was stayed on appeal.

    For further information or to request accommodation for a disability, please contact Dr. Francine Jamin, director of the Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement, at or 301-650-1385.

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