W.M. Kiplinger, Program Founder

The foundation of the Kiplinger Program was built in 1912, when W.M. Kiplinger, born into a family of carriage makers and carpenters from Bellefontaine, Ohio, became one of the first two graduates of the recently established journalism program at The Ohio State University.

After serving as an editor of The Lantern, OSU's student daily, Kiplinger joined the Ohio State Journal as a cub reporter and covered the Columbus flood of 1913, driving across town in a horse and buggy to get the names of the more than 100 flood victims. He later worked for the AP in Columbus, before joining the AP bureau in Washington, D.C.

It was economics, not politics, that Kiplinger found most fascinating. Leaving newspaper journalism, he founded a private "business intelligence" bureau for out-of-town banks and other businesses in 1920. In 1923 he started The Kiplinger Letter, today the oldest and most widely read business forecasting letter in the world. In 1947 he founded Kiplinger Magazine — today called Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

He was so successful that The Saturday Evening Post described him in the 1940s as "the best-paid and most-influential reporter in the world: also the most independent. But the distinguishing mark of his career was his penchant for writing Washington news in a breezy, staccato style that the folks back home understood."

Helping people grasp the world around them became Kiplinger's passion. W. M. Kiplinger was committed to helping his fellow citizens—and his fellow journalists—gain a broader understanding of the world. "He really was a dedicated journalist, a muckraker and an inspiration to young journalists everywhere," his son, Austin Kiplinger, said of W.M. "He was a thorough young newspaper man but he was not a traditionalist. He started The Kiplinger Letter and it was not like anything anyone had ever seen. He was a very original thinker."

After W.M. Kiplinger's death in 1967, Austin, longtime editor-in-chief of the Kiplinger publishing organization, created the Kiplinger Program to memorialize his father's contributions to journalism. The Kiplinger Foundation and The Ohio State University have funded the program for more than 30 years. During that time, the program has hosted more than 250 outstanding fellows, including prize-winning journalists who continue to work at newspapers, broadcast stations and magazines throughout the nation.

Adding digital media fellows to the program continues the Kiplinger legacy. The Kiplinger Program is committed to the highest standards of journalism, while exploring original means of making news accessible to the general public.

Austin Kiplinger said he is proud of the role the program has played in deepening journalists' skills and abilities. "We must continue to raise the bar," he said. "If you are a physicist, you can't rely on what you learned decades ago. Neither can journalists. Everybody has to keep up and that applies to journalists in particular, because we are right on the firing line."

Our Fellowship Mission

As more people get information from YouTube, Twitter and other non-traditional sources, newsrooms need journalists who understand how to tell compelling public affairs stories in cutting edge ways.

That's why the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism is dedicated to helping journalists unite rigorous reporting with digital storytelling — so they can develop innovative online projects that inform wide audiences.

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