On Campus, an Experiment to Save Local News

On Campus, an Experiment to Save Local News

By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY

MACON, Ga. — From the rattling cicadas at twilight to the willow trees bending in the late summer heat, the lush campus of Mercer University seems like the last place to find one of the nation’s boldest journalism experiments.

This fall, Mercer, a 179-year-old former Baptist school, is starting an ambitious $5.6 million project to try to save local journalism by inviting both the Macon newspaper and a Georgia Public Radio station onto its campus.

Reporters and editors for the 186-year-old paper The Telegraph and the radio station will work out of the campus’s new journalism center, alongside students whom the university expects will do legwork for newspaper and public radio reports, with guidance from their professors and working journalists.

It’s a plan born in part of desperation. Like many newspapers, The Telegraph has lost circulation and advertising revenue in the last decade, and the public radio station was forced to trim down to one staff member during the recession.

William D. Underwood, Mercer’s president, expects that by applying what he calls a medical residency model to journalism, all of these players may give the struggling industry a chance to stay alive.

“I want young people to be able to practice journalism ethically and competently the day they graduate,” Mr. Underwood said. “I have a concern about the future of local print journalism. There’s nothing more vital to a functioning democracy.”

Read more at nytimes.com

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