Area of Expertise
Journalism, digital media, citizen journalism, interactive journalism, the future of journalism, innovations in journalism, the business of journalism, civic media, gaming the news, new media women entrepreneurs
Jan Schaffer runs one of the the nation’s most successful incubators for news entrepreneurs and is a leading thinker on the emerging new media landscape. A former business editor and Pulitzer Prize winner for the Philadelphia Inquirer, she left daily journalism in 1994 to lead pioneering journalism initiatives in civic journalism, interactive and participatory journalism, and citizen media ventures. She launched J-Lab in 2002 to help newsrooms use innovative computer technologies to engage people on important public issues. Currently, Schaffer serves as a speaker, trainer, author, consultant, and Web publisher on the future of journalism. J-Lab has seeded more than 90 entrepreneurial pilot projects since 2005. The center has rewarded innovative practices through the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, funded media start-ups through its New Voices project and the McCormick New Media Entrepreneurs initiative. It spotlights new ideas and publishes Web tutorials and publications on how to launch and operate community news sites. She brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to her work. Schaffer joined the Inquirer in 1972 and held a range of reporting and editing positions on the city desk, the national desk, and the business news department. As a federal court reporter, she helped write a series that won freedom for a man wrongly convicted of five murders. The stories led to the civil rights convictions of six Philadelphia homicide detectives and won several national journalism awards, including the 1978 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. She broke the Philadelphia Abscam story about the FBI sting operation that used agents posing as Arab sheiks. She was sentenced to jail for six months for refusing to reveal her sources; the sentence was stayed on appeal. In her role as business editor, she directed the reporting and editing of two investigative series that were named Pulitzer finalists: one on pharmaceutical pricing and one on abuses in the nation's nonprofit sector.