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Stanford Report, July 12, 2000

James Bettinger named director of Knight Fellowships Program

James Bettinger, deputy director of the John S. Knight Fellowships program and a veteran of 20 years in daily newspapers, has been named director of the program. He will succeed James V. Risser, who is retiring Sept. 1 after more than 15 years as director.

"I am delighted with Jim Bettinger's selection. He's done a superb job as deputy director for the past decade. His dedication to the program and to the improvement of journalism make him an excellent choice," Risser said.

Bettinger, 53, was the choice of a faculty-professional search committee, which considered nearly 40 people in its nationwide search, and of the Department of Communication faculty. His appointment was announced June 28.

Communication Professor Don Roberts, who chaired the search committee, said that Bettinger was the top choice among "three or four absolutely remarkable finalists. With Jim we believe we have found the best person to carry the program forward."

In addition to his selection as Knight Fellowships director, Bettinger was appointed a professor (teaching) in the Department of Communication and will teach in the graduate journalism program.

"I feel honored to follow in the footsteps of Lyle Nelson and Jim Risser, the two directors who have led this program for the last 31 years," Bettinger said. "I look forward to helping journalists figure out how to harness the economic and technological forces that are transforming the news business."

Bettinger, a Stanford Professional Journalism Fellow in 1982-83, was named deputy director of the program in 1989. At the time he was city editor/A.M. of the San Jose Mercury News. During five years at the Mercury News, he was night city editor, government and politics editor, and city editor/P.M.

His journalism career began in 1969 at the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise, where he was a reporter, editorial writer and city editor.

He has been a regular columnist for the San Jose Mercury News Sunday magazine and has written for the Boston Globe, the Santa Barbara News-Press and

While at Stanford, Bettinger has taught writing courses in the Department of Communication's journalism program and in the university's Continuing Studies Program. He also has been a writing coach and consultant for the Contra Costa Times, the Bakersfield Californian and the Palo Alto Weekly, and he has led writing and editing seminars for the American Press Institute, the Society of Professional Journalists and the University of California-Berkeley School of Journalism.

He is a graduate of the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Bettinger is married to Dee Bettinger, who owns her own business, and they have a son, Joshua, who is a student at the University of Redlands.

The Knight program provides fellowships to U.S. and international journalists who have demonstrated uncommon excellence in their work and who have the potential of reaching the top ranks of their profession. Each year 12 U.S. journalists and up to eight from other countries participate. They spend an academic year at Stanford pursuing a self-designed course of study and participating in a series of special seminars. SR