How a university takes over a small town newspaper – Poynter

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University of Georgia students take over community newspaper. Not just for a semester, but for good.

I wrote about this new project for Poynter, and wanted to let you know because I think it’s such an interesting and promising development.

For me, this is fascinating because the death of local newspapers means not only deserts of information, but an irreplaceable loss of institutional knowledge about the newspaper industry and community, which we have all absorbed as young journalists. What most of us would be without the Grizzled Old Veterans â„¢ who taught us the ropes?

Take them off and the learning curve becomes steep and riddled with potential landmines.

At the Oglethorpe Echo, not far from the University of Georgia, there are people who have worked and run the newspaper for a long time – people who really understand the community.

The editor and publisher have been there for 40 years, while others have dedicated decades to it as well. A delivery man worked at the Oglethorpe Echo for 64 years, with a brief hiatus while serving in Vietnam.

“So you just couldn’t let that die,” said Dink NeSmith, the mastermind behind the plan to start a nonprofit organization to run the newspaper and staff it with UGA journalism students. .

UGA Journalism Department Head Janice Hume said, “We live so close to the Atlanta media market, and sometimes our students think that if they aren’t going to work in Atlanta, or if they are not going to work in New York, or DC, there are no opportunities for them. And you know, those of us who have worked in the industry know how rewarding community journalism is, local journalism is, and I want to kindle fire in them for the importance of this work.

NeSmith fully agrees.
“In this model, perhaps we could inspire some students to see community journalism as a launching pad for their future careers,” he said.

When I was interviewing NeSmith, I asked what all good journalists should ask for – a version of “What else do you want to add?” What did I fail to ask you? What do you want people to know? “

His answer ?

“You didn’t ask, ‘Where can I send my check?’ This is PO Box 268, Lexington, GA, 30648.

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

If you send a check to this new effort, be sure to put Alma Matters in the memo. ??

Last week I listed a few podcasts and asked for your suggestions. I have heard from a few of you and wanted to pass it on.

Mark Simon wrote of his podcast “The Journalism Salute”, “I spotlight interesting and important journalists and journalistic organizations with an emphasis on showing that journalists are not the enemy and that ‘there are so many great career possibilities for future journalists. “
He said he placed particular emphasis on highlighting journalists from under-represented demographic groups. He recommends his most recent casting with April Alonso from Cicero Independiente, and recent episodes with César Rodríguez and Farnoush Amiri.

Jenna Spinelle recommended Simon’s podcast and also noted that she uses NewsGuest from LION Publishers in the classroom, which offers “practical tips from entrepreneurs changing the news industry.”

Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of collaborations, which is why I wanted to pass on this project management manual from the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Reading the introductory pages will give you a good idea of ​​the importance of collaborations in the American journalistic landscape (think of the story of Facebook Papers, called by this group a “consortium”). And the rest of the manual can help you think about how a collaboration could arise or be improved in your own school.

ProPublica’s ‘Poison in the Air’ presents a great localization opportunity, especially if your school is in a hazardous area.

Just a quick take for my own school.

The Poynter Institute Celebration of Journalism is a virtual fundraiser supporting our nonprofit institute. This year we are honoring Lesley Stahl of CBS News and “60 Minutes”. The virtual gala is free and open to the public, and will also feature auctions and giveaways. It could be a fun extra credit task for you to have your students tune in and listen to our exclusive interview with Stahl.

A valuable way to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in your classroom is to share journalism about, by, and for diverse communities, not just stories that are primarily written by and about cisgender white people. Think about ways you could use these stories in your program. Here are a few examples that I saw this week. I am also including headlines on DCI news and issues.

This week marked the start of a month of reflection on ethics in school and college journalism, and we kicked it off with “Student Journalists Challenge Traditional Industry Ethics”. Subscribe to The Lead, Poynter’s weekly newsletter for student journalists, and encourage your students to do the same.


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