Founded at Macalester College in 1961 by Harry Morgan, the World Press Institute has been the premier organization in the United States providing international journalists with the opportunity to broadly investigate the country: its values, institutions, customs, regions and peoples.
Morgan developed his interest in fostering international understanding in 1953 when he traveled to the Netherlands as a flood relief volunteer. After this experience there, he raised funds to bring a young man and woman he had meet there to the U.S. so they could see what America and Americans were like. This program became the Ambassadors for Friendship and grew into home-stay summer tours for foreign students attending American universities.
With the help of Reader's Digest founder DeWitt Wallace, Morgan moved his organization to Macalester College and in 1961 founded a program to bring international journalists to the U. S. At its conception, it was called the Foreign Journalists Institute with the purpose of "seeking a way of generate the greatest possible international understanding and friendship in the least possible time," according to the program's first brochure. The program as renamed the World Press Institute in 1963.
The initial fellowship began in September 1961. The 12 fellows spend several months at Macalester College in St. Paul where they had a specialized designed curriculum emphasizing courese in American History, Government and Politics and Economics. They also enagaged in informal weekly seminars with academic, business and professional leaders of the Twin Cities and gave more than 100 talks before American audiences.
The second phase of the initial fellowship was a two-month internship on a newspapers or broadcast media throughout the U.S. The third phase was travel throughout the United States. The fellows were divided into three groupds and embarked in station wagons, much like the Ambassador for Friendship program, for a tour of the U.S., staying in American homes and hotels.
The first class of fellows, on their own initiative, formed the World Press Society to signalize their participation in the Institute. Its symbol, a gold pin, is given to each fellow at the end of their fellowship.
Since the first group of fellows completed their program in 1962, over 500 journalists from 94 countries have participated in the WPI fellowships. Many have now risen to positions of prominence in their home countries.