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New Knight fellows arrive to study

Several million people who read newspapers and magazines, watch television, listen to the radio or consult the World Wide Web stand to benefit from the fact that 10 of the journalists who create content for these media are studying at MIT this academic year.

This year's Knight Science Journalism Fellows are taking a sabbatical year away from their jobs to come to the Institute for nine months to gain deeper understanding of science, medicine, technology and the environment.

The new Knight fellows, the 18th class of science journalists to come here since the program began in 1983, are from the United States and four other countries -- India, Nigeria, Germany and South Korea. The group includes five who write for newspapers, one each who work for television and radio, two who write for the web and a photographer whose pictures of science and scientists have been published in popular magazines in several countries.

The 2000-2001 Knight fellows will be introduced to the MIT community at a reception, Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 4-6pm in the Emma Rogers Room (10-240). President Charles M. Vest will speak at the reception, which is sponsored jointly by the MIT News Office and Technology Review magazine.

This year's Knight Fellows are:

-- Sha Hoon Hong, South Korea's only science journalist on television. He covers a wide variety of science and technology stories on the nightly news broadcast of KBS, the Korean Broadcasting System.

-- Akinlabi Jimoh, who covers science and health at the Guardian, the leading English-language daily in Nigeria. Jimoh edits a weekly science section at his newspaper and organizes learning opportunities in science for other Nigerian journalists.

-- Sharon Kay, a freelance writer and producer for both television and the web. She has created content for ABC News, the Discovery Channel and, among others.

-- Karen Rafinski, the Miami Herald's medical writer. A newspaper reporter for 12 years, she has won awards from the Florida Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Press Managing Editors.

-- Teresa Riordan, who writes the "Patents" column in the New York Times's business section. She also writes about new technologies for and is completing a book on inventions aimed at women.

-- Gary Robbins, science reporter for the Orange County Register, California's fourth largest newspaper. He has spent 15 years there, most of it focusing on aerospace and defense issues, oceanography, geophysics and climate change.

-- Bari Scott, executive producer of radio documentaries, which she creates through her company, SoundVision Productions. Her best known science production is "The DNA Files," an award-winning series of nine one-hour documentaries broadcast on National Public Radio.

-- Seema Singh, who covers, science, technology and the environment for the Times of India. Based in Bangalore, a major center of Indian science and technology, she focuses on information technology.

-- Volker Steger, the first professional photographer to join the fellowship. Based in Munich, he takes pictures with a variety of instruments from 35mm cameras to scanning electron microscopes.

-- Angela Swafford, who writes and produces science and environment stories for the Discovery Channel and for Born in Colombia, she writes for both the US and Latin American versions of the web site.

"Science writing is one of the most difficult beats in journalism because it needs to keep pace with a variety of rapidly advancing fields," said Boyce Rensberger, the program's director. "The journalists who come to MIT to study are among the best of the field; they're the ones who are so determined to get their facts right that they are willing to take a full academic year to sharpen their grasp of their subjects."

The Knight Fellowship program is supported by an endowment primarily from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Knight fellows take courses at MIT and Harvard and each week attend two special seminars organized for them.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 27, 2000.

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