Alan Miller ’76
Two of my many meaningful experiences at Wesleyan figured prominently in both of my career paths -- three decades apart.
The first occurred my senior year when I embarked on an ambitious multi-part reporting series for The Argus examining the often-challenging history of the relationship between black and white students at the university. I partnered with editor Jane Eisner '77 to produce a month-long package that sparked much discussion on campus and further established journalism as my career choice.
Following graduate school, I spent 29 gratifying years as a newspaper reporter. Two-thirds of them were in the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times, most of them as an investigative reporter. I had a front-row seat to history, with an opportunity to influence some of it, and the chance to work with some of the finest reporters and editors of our time.
The second professional turning point was my 30th year reunion in 2006. I was asked to appear on a panel on the future of journalism with my former Beta housemate Ethan Bronner '76 and other journalists. It was chaired by Alberto Ibarguen '66, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We had a lively discussion and afterwards I shared a germ of an idea with Alberto.
That idea grew into a nonprofit educational program to bring seasoned journalists into middle schools and high schools to teach students the critical-thinking skills to sort fact from fiction in the digital age and to give them an appreciation of quality journalism. With a founding grant from Knight, I launched the News Literacy Project (NLP) in 2008. This year, we've worked with 55 schools and about 100 teachers in New York City, Chicago and the Washington, DC, region. Five years after kicking off, our journalist volunteers have made some 500 presentations and we've reached nearly 10,000 students. We're poised to go to national scale with an innovative all-digital unit.
I am pleased to be able be able share some of my work as a journalist here: http://www.pulitzer.org/works/2003-National-Reporting
And proud to share a report on NLP by the "PBS NewsHour" here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec11/newsliteracy_12-13.html