Dow Jones Fund, VCU agree to drop minority-only requirement

Journalism workshops will be open to all races

Today the Dow Jones News Foundation, Virginia Commonwealth University and Media General Corp. agreed to drop all racial restrictions on participants in the Urban Journalism Workshop summer program that they jointly co-sponsored. The summer program provides two weeks of hands-on journalism training for high school students.

As a result of the agreement, the Center for Individual Rights dismissed its case challenging the race-exclusive requirement. The case had been pending in federal District Court since it was filed last September on behalf of Emily Smith, a 15 year-old Caucasian student who was denied admission to the program in the spring of 2006.

The VCU program is one of dozens of identical programs funded by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, a non-profit foundation affiliated with Dow Jones, Inc. and named as a defendant in CIR’s suit. Since the first such program in the late 1960’s, Dow Jones has funded urban journalism workshops exclusively for minority students.

Pursuant to today’s settlement, Dow Jones agreed to operate all of its summer journalism workshops without regard to the race. The agreement covers selection of participants, faculty and staff and the use of publicizing material. For the next three years, program materials will conspicuously include a statement to the effect that the program has been changed to eliminate any racial preference.

CIR President Terence Pell said, “Virginia Commonwealth University deserves credit for taking the lead in promptly settling this case. Today’s settlement saves the taxpayers significant legal expense and ensures that this summer’s programs will be open to all, regardless of race.”

Photo: “VCU in Big Letters on Shafer Court” by Taber Andrew Bain licensed under CC BY 2.0.