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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

WPI Cancels 2007 International Journalism Program and Lays off Staff

St. Paul, Minn. - The World Press Institute (WPI) has cancelled its 2007 international journalism training program and laid off its staff effective April 27, 2007, because of a loss of funding, it was announced.

The decision was taken Thursday at the annual spring meeting of the WPI board of directors in Minneapolis. At the same time a special board committee was created to examine WPI's future alternatives, among them a reconstituted program starting in 2008.

"This is a sad development after 46 years of touching the lives of journalists from all over the world," Board Chairman Howard Tyner said. "But in the short term at least, there was no other way to go. Our special committee will be doing everything possible in the coming months to devise a way for WPI to resume operations as soon as feasible."

The layoff affects a program director, an administrative assistant and a development officer. Executive Director Douglas McGill resigned in March. The WPI office will be vacated at the end of May.

WPI's core activity since it was founded in 1961 at Macalester College in St. Paul has been a fellowship program that brings a group of foreign journalists to the United States every summer to study, travel and meet officials of public and private institutions and to learn about the role and responsibilities of a free press. In recent years the program comprised ten fellows who spent four months with WPI. The Institute also has conducted group training sessions both in St. Paul and in a number of foreign countries.

Reader’s Digest founder DeWitt Wallace set up WPI at Macalester at the height of the Cold War as a way to further international understanding by educating foreign journalists about the United States. Since then more than 500 journalists from nearly 100 countries have participated in the fellowship program and hundreds more have been trained by WPI in specialist programs.

Although WPI has been based at Macalester, it is an independent organization that has depended on journalism philanthropies, businesses and individuals for financial support. It is one of the oldest continuing organizations of its kind in the United States.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,884 students.  Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, diversity and civic engagement.