Prospecting for Precious News Nuggets
One big advantage the Philip Merill College of Journalism has over other J-schools around the country is its proximity to the National Archives annex, just a short jog down Adelphi Road from the University of Maryland’s College Park campus.
And one of the real gems of the Maryland journalism program is Associate Professor Ira Chinoy’s “Mining the National Archives” class (JOUR 774), which is being offered again this summer, from May 31, to July 7, 2011.
Imagine WikiLeaks on steroids. The U.S. National Archives is home to millions of original documents, photos, videos, maps, and other historical artifacts, that are the keys to unlocking historical secrets, and fascinating truths, that are just waiting to be told. And only a tiny fraction of the Archives vast holdings are on line.
I took Professor Chinoy’s class in 2009, and although I had tapped into the Archives from time to time in my 35 years as a Washington reporter, I found the class a real eye-opener. Once you know the secrets to rummaging around in the nation’s attic, the possibilities are endless for new important discoveries that can not only change our understanding of history, but today’s events in new, better context.
It was among the best classes I took as a Master’s student at the University of Maryland, and I highly recommend it to anyone who believes journalism’s core mission is to uncover facts, and use them to increase understanding of our world.