The Center was created in 1993 as the centerpieces of the Trusts' initiative, "Renewing our Democratic Heart," to explore the media's role in helping to re-engage citizens in community issues.
The Center works closely with news organizations in experimenting with civic journalism techniques, in evaluating these efforts and in sharing the results through the Center's growing stable of publications, videos, and training workshops.
To date, the Center has helped launched 34 projects in 24 cities. Participating were 22 newspapers, 24 television stations and 20 radio stations. The Center created the 1995-96 Citizens Election Projects and has worked closely with NPR's Election Projects. Last year, the Center launched the $25,000 James K. Batten Award for Excellence in Civic Journalism.
"The news media have such extraordinary power -- to manipulate or motivate, to play to people's cynicism or increase their commitment to participate in community life," said Rebecca W. Rimel, president of the Pew Charitable Trusts. "Civic journalism is one way to re-engage people in seeking solutions to their local problems. Under the leadership of the Center, it is becoming the way to do business in many newsrooms across the country and the consumers of news are beginning to respond."
Ed Fouhy, the Pew Center's executive director, said he is grateful for the Pew Trusts' continued support, which will maintain the Center through September, 1999, and he is excited about the opportunities for working with some of the most creative editors and news directors in the country in developing new journalistic models.
"The renewal comes at a time when demand for information and training from journalism practitioners and academics is soaring," he said.
"The Center is already moving ahead, planning many more publications and workshops to help meet that need and to help produce journalism that not only engages the public, but subscribes to the most basic definition of good journalism."
Major partners in the Pew Center's work have been National Public Radio and the Radio and Television News Directions Foundation, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the University of Maryland College of Journalism, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, PBS's Project Democracy, and the Pew Research Center for People and the Press. The Center's grant is administered by Tides Center of San Francisco.