Who We Are

Who is the Media Giraffe Project?

The Media Giraffe Project is an interdisciplinary research initiative housed with the journalism program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  We draw on scholars and advisors from business, education, public policy and communication studies, along with the assistance of students, and the insights and experience of both media insiders and citizen activists.  We are research driven and non-partisan.  To keep the effort manageable, we are focused on media located in, or serving, the United States. 


To learn about the Media Giraffe Project's initiatives over three years CLICK HERE.


The MGP acknowledges the  work and collaboration of The Giraffe Heroes Project, (www.giraffe.org) a separate and unrelated organization, which has pioneered over two decades the concept of sticking ones neck out for the public good.


Principal collaborators of the Media Giraffe Project:

Bill Densmore is director/editor of the Media Giraffe Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  A resident of Williamstown, Mass., he is a consulting fellow to the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, and is a co-founder and serves on the board of Journalism That Matters. He has also been a visiting lecturer in journalism at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, Mass.  A career journalist, he has covered space shots, presidents, politics and assassinations for The Associated Press in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Densmore has also served as advertising director for a small, group-owned daily; and as an interim director of the not-for-profit Hancock Shaker Village. He edited trade publications in business and law, and freelanced for general circulation dailies including The Boston Globe. He has written for ComputerWorld Magazine on Internet and technology subjects. In 1994, after nine years owning and publishing weeklies in Berkshire County, Mass., Densmore formed Amherst-based Clickshare Service Corp., which provides user registration, authentication, and transaction handling for Internet web content sites. Densmore Associates develops partner and other business strategies for independent media and print publishers, including newspapers. At the start of his career, Densmore worked briefly in public radio in Worcester and Amherst, Mass. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in environmental policy and communications. FULL BIO / EMAIL DENSMORE


Norman Sims, is grant principal investigator for the Media Giraffe Project. He is a University of Massachusetts Commonwealth Honors College professor and former department chairman of the Journalism program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Sims served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Appalachian Mountain Club.  Sims holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. in American History from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Ph.D., in communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A former United Press International reporter, Sims taught at Illinois and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee before UMass.  A specialist in literary journalism, he teaches nonfiction writing and courses on literary journalism, freedom of the press, history, and reporting.  He directs a distance learning Certificate of Online Journalism that won a UCEA Program of Excellence award in 2006. He has published articles and reviews in Journalism History, The Quill, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Gannett Journal. Author and editor, The Literary Journalists (1984), Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century (1990), and co-editor of Literary Journalism (1995).  / EMAIL SIMS / FALL 2007 FACULTY PROFILE


[Sara Majka]

Sara Majka is an advisor to and former associate editor for the Media Giraffe Project. A teaching assistant in the UMass English Department, she holds an undergraduate degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA in Fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She has worked as a freelance editor and has edited books on health care access and research reports on the specialty chemicals industry. She has published work, or has work forthcoming,  in the Boston Herald, The Massachusetts Review, A Public Space, and Night Train.  / EMAIL MAJKA


Students who have assisted with events and profile-writing for the Media Giraffe Project since its inception have included:  Jeffrey Engmann, Elizabeth Hawley, Michael Deehan, Matt Alvey, Katrina Cessna, Ashley Coulombe, Khristine Dolor, Nicole Belanger, Liz Hawley, Jennifer Bergen, Shelby Landeck, Samantha Podhurst, Nichole Amaral, Naychelle Lucas, Lisa DiMatteo, Matt Cadwallader, and Kimya Hedayat-Zadeh.


Nicole Belanger was the multimedia editor of the Media Giraffe Project until she graduated from the University of Massachusetts Communication Department in 2009.  She is now community media and technology coordinator at Cambridge Community Television.


See the faces behind the Media Giraffe Project here.