Journalism Institute Wins $20,000 Grant to Study Local News Industry

Colorado College’s Journalism Institute has been named a winner in the 2020 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. The Online News Association, the world’s largest digital journalism association, announced the award recipients on Dec. 16.

The $20,000 grant will help support a Block 7 class called The Future and Sustainability of Local News, taught by CC Instructor Corey Hutchins. Hutchins, who is deeply involved in CC’s Journalism Institute, says the class is aimed at having students learn about efforts to combat crises facing the local news industry and having the students work on potential solutions to the situation in Colorado.

The project that won the grant funding “will help Coloradans and our media partners make sense of a fragmented local news landscape by mapping assets that currently exist in each of Colorado’s 64 counties,” Hutchins says. Part of the project includes “identifying existing outlets, potential partners, innovators, and individuals who can play new roles in supporting community information needs.”

Two professors from the University of Denver, David Coppini and Kareem Raouf El Damanhoury, also are grant recipients. Media partners include the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), News Voices: Colorado, and the Colorado Media Project.

“It's one thing to learn about the problems facing our nation’s local news industry, how they originated, and what’s being done to mitigate them,” says Hutchins. “It's another for students to actively help with those efforts.”

Hutchins says as a CC journalism class wraps up, students often ask about what they can do to help the local news situation. So in typical CC fashion, “we created a class about that,” Hutchins says. “Colorado makes a compelling setting. A lot of the ills affecting the local news industry are exacerbated in Colorado, and some of the most interesting ideas or experiments for how to combat them are also happening here.” 

Through the Block 7 class (March 29-April 21), students will learn about and engage with various initiatives aimed at sustaining local news through lectures, classroom activities, and plenty of work in the field. They’ll help gather information to create a digital database and map visualization that identifies existing local news sources and other trustworthy information assets across Colorado while engaging with various communities about their local information needs, says Hutchins. 

“These times require new approaches to the relationships between communities and their news sources,” says Laura Frank, director of the Colorado News Collaborative. “The work this grant will support is essential to that effort. COLab is thrilled to have Colorado College and the University of Denver on the team.” Frank, the former vice president of journalism at Rocky Mountain PBS, has previously worked with CC students for an Engaged Journalism class.

Membership in the Online News Association, which administers the Online Journalism Awards, includes journalists, technologists, executives, students, educators, and other digital media professionals. Its mission is to inspire and support innovation and excellence in digital journalism.




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