Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism

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Vikki Porter is founding director of the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. During her 30-year journalism career, Porter has worked in five Western states, started a newspaper, served as top editor for three community newspapers, and shared a 1986 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal as part of a five-person team while city editor of The Denver Post. Most recently, she was executive editor of The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, CA. Porter was a Knight Professional-in-Residence at the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas in 1987-88 and a Knight Journalism Fellow in Studies of Law at Yale Law School in 1988-89, where she earned her Masters in Studies of Law. She is active in the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Associated Press Managing Editors, and has been invited to participate in conferences hosted by the Pew Foundation for Public Journalism, the Freedom Forum, Harwood and Associates and the American Press Institute.
 (213) 437-4417    

Sophie Lafferty is program coordinator for the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. Prior to USC, she was at the Los Angeles Times for 15 years in marketing and communication functions that included serving on planning committees for the 2000 Los Angeles Times/CNN presidential debates, Los Angeles Times Reading by 9 conference and media launch, community outreach youth awards, and companywide task forces on marketing and strategic planning for regional editions. She also shared in the marketing department's Team Award for achievement in new product development in 1998. More recently, Lafferty was business and events manager at Castle Green, a historic landmark in Pasadena, CA, where she implemented community outreach programs, including Concerts at the Castle, monthly tours and a Georgia O'Keeffe-Alfred Stieglitz play. She also served on the Board of Castle Green Historic and Cultural Society, a non-profit support organization. Lafferty began her marketing career at several advertising agencies, including Grey Advertising and Foote, Cone and Belding. She has a B.A. in journalism from USC and an MBA from Pepperdine University.
 (213) 437-4416    

Lanita Pace-Hinton is the associate director of the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, and manages WKC seminars held at the University of California, Berkeley. She began her journalism career as a feature writer with Gannett News Service in Arlington, VA, and has written for the Detroit News and the Washington Post. Pace-Hinton joined The Press-Enterprise, in Riverside, CA as a reporter, and went on to serve as the assistant to the managing editor responsible for editorial recruitment, coordinating the paper's internship programs and community outreach. She later taught journalism and was the advisor to the student newspaper at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. She received her B.A. degree in journalism from Howard University.
 (510) 643-7425    

Sponsoring Institutions

Geoffrey Cowan is the dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication which includes a School of Journalism and a School of Communication. He has been the dean since November 1996. In addition, he is a professor of journalism and law in Annenberg's School of Journalism, and jointly holds a professorial appointment in the USC Law School. Prior to becoming dean, Cowan served as director of the Voice of America (VOA). He was appointed to the position by then-president Bill Clinton in March 1994. In that capacity he served as the 22nd director of the VOA, the international broadcasting service of the U.S. Information Agency, broadcasting nearly 900 hours of programming in 52 languages, to a weekly audience of about 100 million. He also served as associate director of the USIA and as director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, with responsibility for WORLDNET TV and Radio & TV Marti as well as VOA. For the previous 20 years, Cowan taught communication law and policy at the University of California, Los Angeles and was founding director of UCLA's Center for Communication Policy. Concurrently with his teaching at UCLA, Cowan worked as a television producer, receiving an Emmy Award as executive producer of the movie MARK TWAIN AND ME, which was voted the Outstanding Prime Time Program for Children by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. From 1979-84, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, playing a key role in the development of National Public Radio. His radio play on the Pentagon Papers battle, starring Ed Asner and Marsha Mason, won CPB's Gold Medal for Excellence in Best Live Entertainment. Cowan served as chair of California Common Cause, and he was chairman of the Los Angeles commission that wrote the city's ethics code, cited as a model for the nation. Other civic activities included key roles in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the American Jewish Committee, Children Now, and the National Council on Families and Television. Cowan is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.
 (213) 740-3987    

Orville Schell is dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. From his days as a student of Far Eastern history at Harvard College, through his UC Berkeley master's degree and Ph.D. (abd) in Chinese history, to his latest work on China, Hong Kong and Tibet, Schell has virtually devoted his professional life to reporting on and writing about Asia. Author of 14 books - nine about China, including Virtual Tibet, Mandate of Heaven, and Discos and Democracy - Schell has also written widely about Asia for Wired, The New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, Harper's, Newsweek and other national magazines. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim and an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship and numerous writing prizes. Schell has also served as correspondent and consultant for several PBS Frontline documentaries as well as an Emmy award-winning program on China for CBS' 60 Minutes.
 (510) 642-3394    


Gregory Thomas Associates produces a diverse range of strategic marketing support collateral - brand analysis, development and implementation, advertising and marketing materials. Julie Chan created the original design of the Western Knight Center Web site.

Hop Studios Internet Consultants offers Web design, Macromedia Flash, HTML, audio, video and all manner of Web production on a contract and project basis. Susannah Gardner assists the Western Knight Center with graphic design, site production and multimedia programming.

What fellows have to say about past seminars:
"The presenters, especially the demographers, were very impressive. The demographers all had great credentials and certainly delivered outstanding material. The sessions, I hope, will greatly improve the work that my colleagues and I will be able to do with future Census releases. I will strongly recommend for colleagues to apply to appropriate conferences in the future. The repeated emphasis on going beyond summary numbers to examine the underlying dynamic was valuable as a way to start thinking more deeply about stories coming from the numbers."
- Todd Nelson, St. Paul Pioneer Press
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Funded by the John S. and
James L. Knight Foundation