October 25, 2021 — Prison Journalism Project (PJP), a national initiative that trains incarcerated writers to be journalists and publishes their stories, revamped its organization with a newly branded logo, a redesigned website, a new print newspaper and the official launch of PJP J-School.
The new interface and the expanded programs provides a framework that sets PJP up to work intentionally and strategically toward its goal to fully support its writers as they push the boundaries of journalism inside prison to form a national network of prison correspondents.
The new website, made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, allows PJP to publish as a digital magazine, share training resources and explore ways to use digital journalism tools to present the work of writers, poets and artists in a more engaging way.
“Our goal is to be inclusive rather than exclusive, so we want to make our stories, resources and materials as accessible as possible,” said Yukari Kane, co-executive director and PJP editor-in-chief. “We believe that journalism has the power to shift the narrative and shed meaningful light on the lived experiences of incarcerated people from inside the community, but all of us in this space need to work together to fundamentally change the system.”
The site replaces its previous categorization by genre with one that is more focused on topics and issues. A new Meet The Writers section introduces readers to the writers behind the stories. A new How We Work section shares our processes and resources while the PJP J-School section shares our training materials.
Over the summer, PJP officially launched PJP J-School with its first cohort of 15 students from across the country who have completed the first few months of a correspondence-based training course on reported essay writing. The curriculum is developed by PJP team members with deep experience in higher education across four top tier universities and a veteran news editor.
“Varying lead times for prison mail has been challenging, but our students have shown dedication, and we’re already starting to see a difference in their writing,” said Shaheen Pasha, co-executive director and dean of PJP J-School.
PJP also launched the first issue of PJP Inside, a print newspaper for incarcerated writers that highlights stories that demonstrated the biggest trends in 2020 submissions and includes training on how to improve their stories. A “Learn” section provides a fully annotated version of a published article by PJP J-School faculty to show writers how journalism can be done behind walls.
“The newspaper is a response to our writers, who have long asked for a way to read each other’s work,” said Kate McQueen, PJP Inside’s managing editor. PJP plans to initially publish the newspaper twice a year. “We developed PJP Inside, so it can also be an instructional resource.”
The new logo, by designer Cait Palmiter, is bold, powerful and modern and underscores PJP as a serious, innovative entrant in the media industry. “We think the stenciled type and the narrow lettering evokes images of prison while also inviting people to see the people on the other side of the wall and read their stories,” said Teresa Tauchi, director of product and marketing.