Universities help save local journalism

10Sep12

Universities help save local journalism

Local journalism in Macon, Georgia is finding solution to its human resource and office space problems in universities in their proximity. Such local news organizations, having fired many of their journalists as cost saving exercise are now employing students to fill in the gap.

This article explains such arrangement between Mercer University and the Macon newspaper and Georgia Public Radio Station. William D. Underwood, Mercer’s president, calls this sort of an arrangement a medical residency model to journalism and hopes that it gives the struggling industry (local journalism) a chance to stay alive.

The article notes:

It’s a plan born in part of desperation. Like many newspapers, The Telegraph has lost circulation and advertising revenue in the last decade, and the public radio station was forced to trim down to one staff member during the recession.

These media organizations are also using the university space as their editorial office. This has been quite challenging for journalists working out of such offices. As the article mentions – “University officials housed the radio station in a space that has the distinct smell of a nearby wings joint. The newspaper offices are just three noisy stories below student dorms known for their Friday night dance parties. A recent Friday deadline was accompanied by what reporter Joe Kovac Jr. joked sounded like “a wild game of Twister.”

Mercer’s is one of several such collaborations across the country. A 2011 study by the New America Foundation called on journalism schools to embrace the model of an “anchor institution” and do what they can to help local media outlets.

This article ties into Hesmondhagl and Bakers reading in employing interns (or students in this case) to get useful work done. Also, as more tudents aspire for media careers, media organizations operating in a rather crisis (declining advertising and readership) situation, cannot bother about laying off professionals (journalists, RJs) for students who could get the same job done. ‘

-Namrata

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