Benton program suspended
President Sonnenschein announced that the William Benton Fellowship Program in Broadcast Journalism, founded at the University 10 years ago, will be suspended in June. "It is with great regret that the University has taken this action," he said.
The Benton Fellowship program was designed to advance the work of midcareer radio and television professionals, enabling them to bring greater depth and understanding to their work.
Since 1983, the Benton program has awarded 123 fellowships to broadcast journalists in the United States and 10 foreign countries -- Australia, Ireland, Germany, China, South Korea, Russia, Canada, Britain, South Africa and Cameroon.
The program was founded to honor the late William Benton, chairman and publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica and a U.S. senator from Connecticut. Benton served as a vice president and later a trustee of the University and was deeply committed to excellence in broadcasting.
From 1983 to March 1992, the program was supported by the William Benton Foundation with income received from Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. During the past year, the University has provided funding from its own budget. Since no other funds in the amount necessary to continue the program are forthcoming from the foundation or other outside sources at this time, the University will suspend the program at the end of the current academic year.
"This has been a marvelous program, enriching the life of our university by the presence of the Benton Fellows and, we hope, enhancing the future of broadcasting by what the fellows take back with them to their careers in broadcasting," Sonnenschein said. "The William Benton Foundation has been extraordinarily generous."
Sonnenschein praised the work of the founding director of the program, John Callaway, senior correspondent at WTTW/Channel 11 in Chicago, who returned to lead the program again two years ago. "We have been very fortunate in John's leadership. He brought the Benton Fellowship program to fruition as a powerful force in American journalism. He has been the perfect bridge between the academic world and the world of broadcast journalism."
In addition to shaping the program in consultation with both a faculty advisory committee from within the University and a national advisory council, Callaway organized as a part of the Benton program a number of national conferences, including "Campaigning on Cue" -- about media coverage of the 1984 U.S. presidential campaign -- and a conference on broadcast news coverage of terrorism. Both were videotaped and broadcast on Channel 11 in Chicago and on other PBS stations across the country.