Six new fellows—including several prominent journalists, an MIT professor, and a former adviser to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign—will join the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy this semester to study the influence of the press on governments.
The four new Joan Shorenstein fellows, announced Monday, are Adam J. Berinsky, a political science professor at MIT; Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio; Farai N. Chideya ’90, a journalist and author of six books; and Zack Exley, a political and technology consultant who worked as a senior advisor to the Sanders campaign. The Joan Shorenstein fellowship is an application-based award granted each semester to visiting scholars, journalists, and policymakers for research relating to media and policy.
The Shorenstein Center named Richard A. Stengel, the former managing editor of TIME magazine, the recipient of the Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellowship. While at the Kennedy School, Stengel will lead discussions on the press and government with students and faculty.
Meighan Stone, president of the girls’ education advocacy organization The Malala Fund will also be in residence as the Shorenstein Center’s second Entrepreneurship Fellow. Stone’s research at the Shorenstein Center will center on the intersection of media and refugee policy, she said.
The Shorenstein fellows will arrive at Harvard in the wake of one of the most turbulent presidential elections in recent history, and one that has provoked widespread scrutiny of the role of media and journalism in politics.
Many of the new fellows said that they plan to focus on the events of last year’s election and the shifting opinions of the electorate while at the Shorenstein Center.
Chideya, a former fellow at the Institute of Politics, plans to write about the role of race and gender in political press coverage.
“I’ve covered every election since 1996, including this past election, which I covered for FiveThirtyEight,” Chideya said. “I’ll be working with people at MIT Media Lab on how fake news spreads, and then looking at the race and gender of people who work in the media.”
Exley will research what he sees as an “artificial” divide between religious and secular Americans, and seek proposals to create a “new majority” from multiple camps.
“I'm going to be looking at the ways that the media and the party primary system have interacted to create the sense that there are only two, simplistic political cultures in America: the conservative Christian subculture and the secular progressive subculture,” Exley said.
Boaden, a British broadcaster, said she is interested in studying the challenges facing “public service” journalists after polarizing events like the U.S. election and the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
“I think the thing that particularly interests me at the moment is whether or not impartial journalism—by which I mean journalism that rigorously examines evidence that doesn’t take sides—can survive in this new age of anger and hyperbole and clearly social media,” Boaden said.
Exley, Boaden, and Stone all said they were excited to meet students, faculty, and other scholars as Shorenstein fellows.
“It’s a chance to be stimulated, it’s a chance to talk to peers, people who know things I don’t know,” Boaden said of the fellowship. “Above all, I love engaging with young people—I love their energy. I love that part of my job.”
—Staff writer Lucas Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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