Sharing our thoughts and best practices.


Class of 2018 Kiplinger Fellows announced

Seventeen journalists from around the globe will gather in central Ohio this April to make up the 2018 Class of the Kiplinger Fellowship.

The editors, reporters and producers represent some of the most distinguished media outlets in the world and were chosen from a field of more than 500 global applicants.

“Another year and another outstanding class for the Kiplinger Fellowship. We are delighted to have such a good cross-section of experience, diversity and media platforms in this year’s class,” Kiplinger Director Kevin Z. Smith said. “In a highly competitive program, we see excellent representation from all over the globe.”

Kiplinger Director Kevin Smith looks at the work of Fellow Patricia Montemurri as she composes her bubble image.

The Kiplinger Fellows will be joined by 16 Chinese business journalists connected with the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University to expand the fellowship to its largest class and give it a truly international flavor.

The Fellows will divide their time between Columbus and Athens, Ohio where they will be immersed in digital and social media training.

“The faculty and students of E.W. Scripps School of Journalism eagerly anticipate the 2018 Kiplinger Program, the first to take place on our campus at Ohio University,” Journalism Director Robert Stewart said. “We expect to benefit as much as contribute to the amazing training provided through the program.”

The 2018 U.S. Kiplinger Fellows are:

Louis Aguilar, Detroit News

Vince Beiser, Los Angeles freelancer

Raquel Godos, Agencia EFE

Stephanie Griffith, Agence France-Presse

Matthew Hall, San Diego Union-Tribune

Kate Howard, Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Marisa Kwiatkowski, Indianapolis Star

Kira Lerner, ThinkProgress

Delano Massey, The Associated Press

Taylor Mirfendereski, KING 5 TV Seattle

Corinne Segal, PBS Newshour, Weekend

Stephanie Valentic, Penton Informa


International fellows include:

Elizabeth Davies, BBC, London

Arun Karki, Center for Data Journalism Nepal

Narin Sun, Voice of America, Cambodia

Angela Ukomadu, Reuters, Nigeria

Ekaterina Venkina, Deutsche Welle, Berlin

The Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism was founded in 1973 from a generous gift by the Kiplinger Foundation in honor of Willard Kiplinger, an Ohio State University 1912 journalism graduate and editor of The Lantern. For 45 years the Kiplinger Program’s mission has been to train mid-career journalists. Each year Kiplinger, through a series of workshops and conferences, educates nearly 1,000 journalists worldwide.


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Fake news, media literacy challenge Ethiopian press corps

You don’t have to spend more than a couple of hours talking with an Ethiopian journalist to learn that it’s a daily challenge to ply your trade in a country that calls itself a democracy. The conversations involve a lot of forlorn looks, head shaking and some pent-up anger.

What I’ve come to learn in my handful experiences with African journalists (Sierra Leone, Zambia, Uganda and Ethiopia) is that democracy in theory usually doesn’t translate into a free press in reality. Ethiopia is no exception.

The press is free to work in many of these countries so long as its coverage is complimentary of the government and its usually corrupt politicians.

Members of the Media Women of Ethiopia discuss goals for improving journalism in 2018.

Threats of imprisonment are common, but, so too are tactics that keep information from the hands of the press and public or officials asserting overwhelming support for state-operated TV, radio and print at the expense of the independent press. All of the tactics to keep the press at bay are in full force in Ethiopia. Couple that with an undertrained workforce of journalists, low pay and an avoidance of standards, and it becomes a bit overwhelming.

Perhaps the greatest among these challenges now is the proliferation of fake news stories either from foreign influencers or the state media. Aided by a population that readily shares unverified information and, the desired effect of manipulating the minds of the masses is a daily occurrence.

The media landscape is similar to many African countries, but there is a strong online presence from expatriates who want to disseminate questionable news in hopes of staging uprisings against those in power. The government, for its part, denounces most news it doesn’t like as fake and metes punishment against legitimate news organizations in some cases.

Whatever the source or the motives, media literacy is needed to help the more than 100 million of the country’s residents sift through the profound static noise that passes for news.

When I traveled there for four days in November my mission was to help scratch the surface of these challenges. I’m thankful neither the U.S. Embassy staff in Addis Ababa

nor the journalists themselves expected a magic bullet solution to the litany of problems. My goal was to help inspire journalists to rise up in voice and to train them and the public on ways to combat the disinformation flooding their daily news feeds.

First, we went after the public and, thanks to a robust U.S. Embassy team and its Facebook presence, we were able to get before 140,000 people on an afternoon to educate them about why fake news is effective, what its intentions are and how to recognize, challenge and defeat its presence on social media.

Later in the week we drilled down on the subject with the journalists and shared with them tools they could use to improve their work, engage the public with transparency about their role and responsibilities and regain credibility.

I also met with representatives of nearly all of the Ethiopian media associations and after three hours of productive discussions, I think some strong alliances were formed. The goal is to join their resources and strengths to work on a nationwide media literacy program that should keep a consistent message in front of the populace for some time.

Despite the obvious up-hill-battle for greater press freedoms many of the Ethiopian journalists I met were decidedly optimistic about their roles, their work and the effect it has on their fellow citizens. Their resolve to tell the truth and be responsible and credible journalists is strong.

I hope with some new ideas, some renewed spirit and inspiration they will move forth a stronger and more viable press. That’s not a magic bullet, but it’s a game plan worthy of execution.

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Kiplinger Fellowship journalists chosen

Fellows for the 2018 Kiplinger Fellowship have been selected. If you have not been notified of your acceptance, unfortunately, you were not selected from the more than 500 applicants worldwide.

The coveted weeklong training in digital and social media will be held April 15-20, 2018 in Athens, Ohio, site of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

Deadline for applying is midnight, EDT, Nov. 19.

Fellows selected for the Fellowship, now in its 45th year, will have much of their expenses paid through a generous endowment of the program from the Willard M. Kiplinger journalism family. U.S. applicants will be asked to pay their transportation in and out of Columbus. International fellows will receive a stipend to help offset some of their airfare to the U.S. Training, lodging and most meals are provided by the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.

Adam Causey and Kofo Belo-Osagie confer with one another over a spreadsheet filter.

All applicants must have at least five years of professional experience and must be proficient in English writing and speaking. All training is done in English. Three work samples are required of all applicants and foreign ones must come with an English translation, if necessary.

This year, as in the past, the programming for the Fellowship will be dictated by the needs of the Fellows. In the past training has focused on social media management, media analytics, mobile applications and videography, cybersecurity, social media ethics and information verification, data journalism and data visualization.

Here is what a few previous fellows have said about their Kiplinger experience:

“The sessions, themselves were extremely productive and helped demystify some of the tools that are so crucial to good journalism, but are often not taught at big institutions … it is truly an incredible program and I’m still pinching myself that I was among those chosen to attend.”


Iain Marlow, Correspondent, Bloomberg News, India

“The Kiplinger Fellowship program not only gave me the opportunity to meet talented journalists from all over the world, it also provided me with new tools and ideas so that I can amplify my voice as a journalist on social media.”


Silvia Silgado, Univision Network

“I could not feel more inspired and invigorated after the most extraordinary week at Kip Camp. Top-notch training from great speakers, highly organized program and a unique opportunity to meet so many colleagues from all over the world.”


Cristina Men, TSF Ràdio Noticias, Portugal

 For further information, contact Kiplinger Program director Kevin Z. Smith at (614)688-7464 or at



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Read this primer on fake news

As summer comes to an end and so does your leisurely reading time, Kiplinger would like to add this blog to your final reading list. Here we offer a short, but helpful tutorial to confront one of the greatest challenges facing American journalism – FAKE NEWS.

Each April during Kiplinger Fellowship Week one of the highest rated workshops we offer is on validation and verification of internet information and images by Steve Myers, editor of The Lens in New Orleans. We’ve written about him before and shared his presentation. His presentation walks journalists through a host of internet slip ups made by ordinary people but hoodwinked the press in the process.

In addendum, we want to share guidelines for spotting fake news from entities like Harvard University. to a renown financial magazine, to an association of librarians (Now you know it’s time to get serious.) And, no report on fake news would be complete without fact checkers weighing in.f course, no advisory on fake news would be fulfilled without an explanation of fake news,  because no less than the U.S. President has ill-defined it. It’s not news that you are in disagreement with. It’s news created in dank laboratories of the mind by mischievous people and Eastern European teenagers looking to make a few thousand bucks selling advertising on their bogus news sites.

Merriam-Webster has shared its views here. Wikipedia has this offering. Essentially, fake news is made-up stories intended to confuse and misinform audiences into believing something that isn’t true.

But, as the Washington Post (often accused of being a fake news bearer by the current administration) opined six months ago, it’s been hijacked and used to mean something different. It’s important that journalists reclaim the rightful definition if they want to battle it and reclaim credibility with the public (an intention of the administration to discredit the press.)

As journalists, of course, we have to ethically disconnect ourselves from creating or advancing fake news. But, it also means we have to be diligent to not inadvertently spread it by not doing a thorough job of vetting it before releasing. Once is too many times for well-intended and legitimate news organizations get caught in a web of deceit as they eagerly attempt to pursue news on deadline. No amount of notoriety for being first of having a scoop is worth the recognition you’ll receive if you get it wrong by advancing someone else’s falsehoods.

Chin up, enjoy the summer and get back in there because fake news doesn’t take a vacation even when you do.

















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Data journalism unearths stories in Zambia

As part of Kiplinger’s ongoing mission to train professional journalists worldwide, I spent the first week of May in Zambia, where, at the request of the U.S. Department of State and the embassy in Lusaka, I taught 22 journalists the fundamentals of data journalism.

It was a challenge given their understanding of data use in reporting and their abilities to get information from the government. In the end, we overcame both and the hopeful results will be more informative, fact-based journalism to the public.

Challenge one will be getting information from a government that controls a large share of the publications, TV and radio stations. Those employees, underpaid and overworked, aren’t likely to flex their press muscles to demand access to data. Those who work for private media outlets and are often seen as government oppositions, are spoon-fed selected information and denied access to raw data. But, they are thirsty and driven. And, tired of being denied.

Zambian journalists spent four days at the U.S. Embassy learning data journalism.

The second challenge is technological. In a nation where internet services are spotty and WiFi is a hit-and-miss proposition, spending a lot of time sifting through data or even searching for it can be difficult. They can almost forget, at this point, building their own data sets. They’re not there yet.

So, the week focused on the ins and outs of starting data projects, no matter the size, the search for data and how to manage it. We covered finding, uploading, sorting and interpreting data. I used Xcel and Google Sheets, walking them through the simplest ways to control data. We even delved into data-visualization-made-easy apps.

Thank goodness for the data site that is the World Bank.

As we methodically data mined  World Bank collections we unearthed an amazing amount of information they’d never seen. In some cases, the data refuted the government party line on poverty, health care, environmental protection and literacy. Shock.

Kabwe, a town about 90 minutes by car from the capital, is renowned for being one of the most polluted spots in the world. For years, a lead mine provided the mineral for the world at the health and environmental expense of the people and their land. Today, scavengers still mine the remnants by hand. Health issues are aplenty. The environment has been laid to waste. Data from the government is almost impossible to get. The World Bank, which has poured millions (one single donation topped at $60 million USD) into remediation of the town, has a treasure trove of data and reports online.

As we peeled back the layers it was heartening to see that most of the journalists had never seen that organization’s data and reports. They rapidly took notes and openly expressed their frustrations about not knowing this important data sitting in cyberspace for years. This was a win for journalism.

You could see the lights coming on as each day we discovered more data and they learned more skills. Story ideas popped into their heads. The desire to refresh old stories was embraced. Kawbe is still a very active story 12 years after the mine closed. I think it will get renewed attention in the coming months. The same became true when we reviewed fertility, poverty, environmental, agricultural and literacy data sets. They have plenty of stories to take to the people.

And, that was really the mission – first to convince them they were leaving a lot of stories behind by not invoking data, and second, give them the abilities to go after the data and manage it for the betterment of their reporting.

The end game is to empower the press to work more diligently and productively to become a true Fourth Estate pillar that shores up democracy in that nation. Hats off to the Zambian journalists who will take on that responsibility.







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