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University of Vermont Launches ‘Grow Local News Reporting’ Effort

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is contributing to a total $7 million collective investment at the University of Vermont to grow nationwide partnerships between local news outlets and universities that amplify local reporting.

Dr. Richard WattsDr. Richard Watts“We appreciate these investments by the Knight Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, which demonstrate their confidence in our approach and underscore the importance of trustworthy information to the health of democracy and civil discourse,” said Dr. Suresh Garimella, president of University of Vermont, whose Center for Community News is a benefactor of the investment. “We are very proud to promote student participation in civic life through the Center for Community News.”

The Center for Community News is devoted to growing news-academic partnerships – a model that has emerged over the past decade in response to shrinking local news resources, fewer beat reporters, and diminished statehouse coverage.

“Student reporters now provide millions of people with professional coverage of local issues,” said Dr. Richard Watts, director of the Center for Community News. “Our mandate is to facilitate collaboration, learning, and growth across this field of reporting programs to ensure its sustainability in an otherwise volatile news industry.”

The center plans to use the investment — $5 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a $500,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and other funds from Vermont’s College of Arts and Sciences and donors — to increase research, programming, education, and advocacy for student reporting programs.

With mutually beneficial arrangements for students, news outlets, and their communities, its partnerships are expected to offer hands-on civic experiences for students who can enter a pipeline of professional news coverage for communities.

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