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NEW REPORT: Journalism Schools Must Fill Void for Local Communities

Published:   October 28, 2011

Today the New America Foundation released a new report calling for journalism schools to help local communities engage and access information. As the media landscape is changing, journalism schools are already beginning to fill the void left by local media outlets. The report calls on journalism programs to work with local media to innovate, collaborate and actively seek to increase coverage of local communities outside the university or college.

Tom Glaisyer, Knight Media Policy Fellow, said, “Journalism education programs have an opportunity to become “anchor institutions” in the emerging media ecosystem. Many schools have long embraced elements of this vision, but satisfying the information needs of communities will require many more schools to take on the challenges of engaging communities through the creation of meaningful local accountability journalism.”

“Few studies are both comprehensive and cutting edge. But this report is both. It finds that journalism schools are taking on more responsibility for community content. Yet it goes on to chart bold new territory, suggesting schools not inform communities but truly engage them," said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which funded the report.

Among its recommendations the report makes the following policy prescriptions:

  1. Journalism education programs at universities and colleges should increase coverage of local communities outside the university or college in conjunction with local media; 
  2. The media industry should make a stronger financial commitment to supporting innovative thinking, research, and curriculum development in the journalism field; 
  3. Local community foundations should engage by providing funds to support community media outlets through journalism programs; and
  4. The federal government should consider the myriad of ways, both monetary and policy-wise, that it can encourage journalism programs to take on this role especially through grants from Corporation for Public Broadcasting to support journalism schools producing local content.

About The Media Policy Initiative

The Media Policy Initiative (MPI) is part of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative. It formulates policy and regulatory reforms to foster the development of a healthy media that satisfies the needs of democracy in the 21st century. MPI’s fellows and staff research, analyze, and promote policies that are committed to maximizing the public interest potential of innovative media, supported by partnerships with communities, researchers, industry, and public interest groups. By studying the social and economic ramifications of policymaking – particularly on poor, rural, and other underserved constituencies – MPI provides in-depth, objective research, analysis, and findings for policy decision makers and the general public. For more, visit http://mediapolicynewamerica.net

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org.

Please contact Sabrina Siddiqui, Media Relations Manager, at Siddiqui@newamerica.net, for interviews.