Cox Institute and NPPA Spearhead Resource Effort for Independent Journalists

Cox Institute and NPPA Spearhead Resource Effort for Independent Journalists

April 12, 2017

Training Initiative Includes Assistance from UGA SBDC and Atlanta Press Club

A working group called the Independent Journalists Resource Coalition (IJRC) was launched today at the University of Georgia as part of an effort to bring new training and support to a growing number of journalists who work independently.

The James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the National Press Photographers Association, also headquartered at Grady, are spearheading the initiative, which plans to build an online clearinghouse of training and support services and offer in-person training for journalists working as freelancers and contractors.

“Now more than ever, Americans need to get their news from a variety of places with a variety of voices — but as newsrooms shrink, the number of voices is dwindling, fast. It’s an existential threat to our democracy,” said Bob Sullivan, an award-winning independent journalist who is leading the IJRC initiative as a member of the Cox Institute’s advisory board. “In this chaotic environment, independent journalists can be an essential part of the solution, but we must find a way to provide them with the tools and protections afforded reporters at large media organizations.”

The IRJC will leverage existing training platforms including the NPPA’s Business Practices Resources, which features tools such as the Cost of Doing Business Calculator.

“Visual Journalism is changing rapidly — from technology to business practices — and if you want to compete and succeed today you need to stay educated, informed and current,” said NPPA President Melissa Lyttle, an independent photojournalist. “This has the potential to be a huge resource, and furthermore shows the NPPA’s continued commitment to helping independent visual journalists.”

The IJRC also plans to partner with the Small Business Development Center, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, and will work directly with Area Director Laura Katz to craft business training programs specific to the needs of independent journalists. The IJRC will work with the Atlanta Press Club to test initial training and gain feedback from its independent members prior to a broader program launch.

Freelance and contract journalists face a myriad of issues in the content marketplace including negotiating fair compensation, acquiring legal aid and finding affordable technology services.  Operating as an independent journalist essentially means running a small business, but many journalists don’t have the background and skills necessary to thrive in that environment.  The IRJC intends to work with this community of journalists to identify their most pressing needs and find ways to address them through training and other service offerings.

The initial work of the IRJC is supported through a donation from Adam Levin, a New York-based consumer advocate and author. Organizations interested in joining or supporting the IRJC are encouraged to contact Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute, at

About the Grady College

Grady College offers undergraduate degrees in advertising, entertainment and media studies, journalism and public relations, along with certificates in new media, public affairs communications and sports communication. Grady also offers three graduate degrees; a master’s and doctoral program of study plus a Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Narrative Media Writing. Grady offers a Graduate Certificate in Media Industry Research for students enrolled in a graduate program at the college. Accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, Grady is a leader in journalism research and education. The College is home to several prominent centers and institutes, including the Peabody Awards, recognized as the most prestigious award in electronic journalism, and the National Press Photographers Association. Grady’s faculty includes internationally known researchers and respected industry professionals. Alumni include Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, Emmy Award winning producers and reporters and company CEOs.

About the Cox Institute

The James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership at the Grady College prepares students and professionals for leadership roles in the news media. By sponsoring intensive training programs and funding applied research, the Cox Institute is at the forefront of addressing the strategic challenges faced by contemporary news organizations.  The Cox Institute was established in 1990 by the late Conrad Fink, a legendary journalism professor in the Grady College. It is named for the late James M. Cox Jr., who headed Cox Enterprises and Cox Broadcasting Corporation from 1957 until 1974.

About the NPPA

For more than 70 years, the National Press Photographers Association has focused on education and advocacy for visual journalists. The NPPA vigorously promotes freedom of the press in all its forms, working to protect the First Amendment, as well as visual journalists’ rights to earn a living from their work. Through regional and national education events, the NPPA pushes forward the values enshrined in its Code of Ethics and helps prepare staff and independent visual journalists to succeed in challenging environments. The NPPA recognizes the best work in photojournalism through its annual Best of Photojournalism competition, along with monthly clip contests for multimedia and still photojournalism and quarterly contests for television, picture editing and student work. NPPA is the voice for visual journalists.

About the UGA Small Business Development Center

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. Designated as one of Georgia’s top providers of small business assistance, the SBDC has 17 offices ranging from Rome to Valdosta to serve the needs of Georgia’s business community. Since 1977, our network of partners has helped construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support, and success of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators. The SBDC, a Public Service and Outreach Extension of UGA, is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs.

About the Atlanta Press Club

The Atlanta Press Club has grown to become one of the largest and most dynamic professional journalism associations in the country. Our membership encompasses Atlanta’s burgeoning media community — print, broadcast and online, big and small, national and local media outlets. Over half of our 500-plus members are working journalists. The balance is public relations professionals, educators, retirees and students. Its mission is to serve the evolving professional, educational and social needs of our media community, foster journalistic excellence and advance the public’s interest in and understanding of a free press.