The University of Vermont (UVM) is launching a $400,000 initiative to support local news media across the U.S. The Center for Community News (CCN) will aim to promote collaborations between local news media outlets and students.
The initiative is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and UVM College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) donors.
“A vibrant democracy demands substantive and independent local sources of information,” said UVM CAS Dean Dr. William Falls. “As news deserts expand and threats to the democratic process mount, the Center for Community News will help to build a stronger and more resilient future for local news around the country.”
CCN plans to compile a national database of academic and community news programs that are using creative solutions to help fill news gaps, train journalists, and create a more sustainable economic news model; create advisory materials for organizations that want to launch news partnerships or expand existing efforts; and continue to train citizen reporters through UVM’s Community News Service (CNS).
“The threat to local journalism has never been so dire,” said CCN Advisory Board Chair Meg Little Reilly. “But these seismic changes also present an opportunity today to reimagine a future for local news that is more resilient, more rigorous and more representative of our communities. It’s an urgent and exciting time to remake local news.”
Since 2004, the U.S. has lost more than 2,100 newspapers, according to a report from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. And today, two thirds of U.S. counties have just one daily newspaper and more than 200 have no local newspaper at all.
“This is a time to engage our students and colleges in doing local reporting,” said Dr. Richard Watts, founder of the CNS at UVM who will head the new initiative. “Universities have a responsibility to lead.”