top of page

How universities are filling gaps in media coverage

Victoria Holmes | for Editor & Publisher

Gaps in news coverage are spreading across the country. But even with this challenge, newsrooms are finding resources and innovative ways to save or even revive their storytelling capabilities. One example is partnerships between universities and media companies. This trend is especially prevalent in local newspapers, which are facing increasing newsroom layoffs as they struggle to survive. These partnerships have the potential to help fill gaps in coverage and train a new generation of journalists.

Students save The Oglethorpe Echo

The Oglethorpe Echo is a newspaper in a small, rural town outside Athens, Georgia. The owner and publisher, Ralph Maxwell, planned to close down the paper in 2021. That’s when Dink NeSmith, co-owner of Community Newspapers, Inc., stepped in and evolved the paper into a partnership with the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications in Athens. (E&P reported on this partnership in “This is one Echo that won’t fade” in December 2021.) Charles Davis, Ph.D., the dean of the school, said the paper and the partnership have been a success so far.

“The sort of relationship that our student reporters have with Oglethorpe County

is really special, because the residents of Oglethorpe County know that this partnership saved their paper,” said Davis.

The students are under the supervision of a long-time Associated Press reporter, Andy Johnston. They’ve written about everything from community festivals to sports and crime.

“It is a living, breathing class, except the whole class takes place in Oglethorpe County, and they’re divided by beats,” Davis explained.

Davis said the program provides students with the necessary skills, allowing them to take on real-world projects that impact their community. He said that having these types of relationships have helped his students better understand what it takes to be journalists in today’s world, including how much work goes into producing quality content.

“A number of them tell me that this is one of the most meaningful educational experiences they’ve ever had. Which means a lot to us — that it really hit home,” said Davis.

Writing stories for a community outside of fellow college students might have been a bit intimidating at first, but the residents quickly warmed up to the new staff of reporters.

“Oglethorpe County knows that this partnership saved their paper. And the people in Oglethorpe have a really intense relationship with their newspaper because it’s the only media outlet in the county,” said Davis.

Keep Reading

bottom of page