Nieman Foundation at Harvard
America’s Test Kitchen, “the Consumer Reports of cooking,” wants to grow to new platforms
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 15, 2011, 9 a.m.

Knight funds collaborative reporting center in Georgia

The Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University will bring together students, newspaper and public media reporters in one newsroom.

The Knight Foundation is launching a new program at Mercer University designed to prepare journalists, both aspiring and employed, how to perform their craft in an increasingly interdependent industry.

The Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer will partner students from the school’s journalism and media studies program with journalists from The (Macon) Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Knight is investing $4.6 million over several years into the initiative, which will put students and professionals in the same newsroom to cover news from Macon and the rest of central Georgia. The aim is a two-fold benefit: giving students experience in live reporting and providing both news outlets with additional bodies to support their newsgathering. You may remember Knight’s Eric Newton in these pages describing his aspirations for a model that combines student learning with civic benefit:

What if universities turned their growing numbers of journalism and mass communication students loose on that unused local news capacity? If medical students can cure people as they learn to be doctors, why can’t more journalism students inform and engage communities as they learn to be professionals?

The arrangement follows many other efforts that combine for-profit newsrooms and non-traditional journalism producers. As staffs are reduced through layoffs and budgets shrink some news organizations have partnered with nonprofits, some have arranged story-sharing agreements for an informal newswire. Mercer joins a growing number of colleges and universities that are collaborating with news organizations in an attempt to give students a balance between academia with the real world. Think teaching hospital: Mercer’s medical school is affiliated with two, so there’s already an on-campus example of blending pedagogy and practice.

“The reason I think this is special is we have three strong partners who are civic minded and want to create the future of news and information,” said Beverly Blake, Knight’s program director in Macon.

That Knight has a program director in Macon is evidence of another reason for the collaboration: Macon is one of 26 cities where Knight gives special emphasis on local philanthropy — one of eight where it has a local program director. The reason: They’re cities where Knight Newspapers once owned the local daily, in this case The Telegraph.

A good portion of the money will be used to build out a physical space for the center on the Mercer campus. Blake told me the program will begin in earnest in fall 2012, when journalists from The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting move into a new shared newsroom. Mercer’s journalism and media studies department currently has around 50 students, Blake said, which they aim to increase to 100 soon.

Disclosure: Knight Foundation is a funder of the Nieman Journalism Lab.

POSTED     Dec. 15, 2011, 9 a.m.
Show comments  
Show tags
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
America’s Test Kitchen, “the Consumer Reports of cooking,” wants to grow to new platforms
“We’d like to move to other platforms, particularly as we see the changes in how people consume television.”
A program from Poynter and ONA is helping foster a community of female leaders in digital media
The Women’s Leadership Academy provides camaraderie and concrete advice beyond a bundle of platitudes.
Come talk ad blockers with Nieman Lab and a set of experts in New York
We’re having our first event in New York City with industry leaders: Wednesday, December 2 at 6 p.m.
What to read next
Instant Articles get shared more than old-fashioned links, plus more details from Facebook’s news push
“That’s what we can do, as a platform: be really responsive to what publishers want out of us.” Also coming up: A major move into international markets.
616How one blog helped spark The New York Times’ digital evolution
“I certainly had editors tell me that I shouldn’t be wasting my time on Bird Week. But that was the best part of City Room…We were like unsupervised children.”
572News outlets left and right (and up, down, and center) are embracing virtual reality technology
Among those experimenting is The Wall Street Journal, which plans to open source its 360-degree mobile video and VR technology and hopes to turn VR into more of a mainstay of its storytelling.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Poynter Institute
Zonie Report
Al Jazeera
Investigative Reporting Workshop
Next Door Media
Public Radio International