Coverage of local news continues to be challenged by funding and staffing concerns. However, assistant professor of Journalism and NULab Core Faculty member Meg Heckman and her co-authors recently published a study in the Journal of Journalism Studies where they explore how journalism schools at collegiate institutions might help to combat the creation of local news deserts in the United States. In an article for Editor and Publisher, Victoria Holmes covers the impact this study and its co-authors’ work as professors and mentors has on the availability of local news in areas underserved by newspaper coverage.
The study examines the ways by which students work within three local newspapers, The Oglethorpe Echo, The Eudora Times, and The Scope (where Heckman was a former faculty adviser). Heckman and the study’s co-authors argue that partnerships and collaborations between sources of local news and journalism schools are highly beneficial for both parties. By becoming involved in real-world stories, students gain experience publishing stories which matter for their communities, and developing smaller interviews into longer running stories.
Holmes’ article on the study emphasizes the value these partnerships stand to offer both journalism students and the communities in which they work. The article suggests The Scope is a model for student-led and community-engaged journalism.