A number of universities are publishing the reporting of their student journalists on the states, cities, and neighborhoods where the schools are located. The students work in journalism classes and news services under the supervision of professional journalists now on their faculties. The students’ reporting appears on local news Web sites operated by the universities and in other local news media, some of which pay for the reporting to supplement their own. In southern Florida, for example, The Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post, and Sun Sentinel have agreed to use reporting from journalism students at Florida International University.
The University of Missouri is unique in having run its own local daily newspaper, the Columbia Missourian, since 1908, when its journalism school opened. This valuable journalism laboratory has professional editors and a reporting staff of journalism students. Other universities, meanwhile, publish local news Web sites. In New York, Columbia’s journalism school operates several sites with reporting by its students in city neighborhoods, and investigative reporting by students in the school’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism has appeared in several major news outlets.
Students at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley also do reporting in several San Francisco area communities for the school’s neighborhood news Web sites, and the graduate school has plans for its 120 students to work with professional journalists, beginning next year, at the local news Web site it is starting with San Francisco’s KQED public radio and television. The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University in Phoenix operates the Cronkite News Service, which provides student reporting to about Arizona to thirty client newspapers and television stations around the state. And the Capital News Service of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism operates news bureaus in Washington and Maryland’s capital in Annapolis. Northwestern University students staff a similar Medill School of Journalism news service in Washington.
Universities also are becoming homes for independent nonprofit investigative reporting projects started by former newspaper and television journalists. Some are run by journalists on their faculties, while others, such as The Watchdog Institute at San Diego State University, are independent nonprofits that use university facilities and work with faculty and students. For example, Andy Hall, a former Wisconsin State Journal investigative reporter, started the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism as an independent, foundation-supported nonprofit on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Its reporting by professional journalists, interns, and students appears in Wisconsin newspapers, public radio and television stations, and their Web sites.
In Boston, Walter Robinson, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning Globe investigative reporter, and students in his investigative reporting seminars at Northeastern have produced eleven front-page pieces for the Globe since 2007. And a group of former local television and newspaper journalists on the faculty at Boston University recently launched the New England Center for Investigative Journalism in its College of Communications, staffed by the journalist faculty members and their students, in collaboration with the Globe, New England Cable News, and public radio station WBUR.
How can fledgling news reporting organizations keep going?
Money is obviously a major challenge for nonprofit news organizations, many of which are struggling to stay afloat. Raising money from foundations and other donors and sponsors consumes a disproportionate amount of their time and energy. Advertising and payments from media partners for some stories account for only a fraction of the support needed by most news reporting nonprofits.
Nearly twenty nonprofit news organizations—ranging from the relatively large and well-established Center for Investigative Reporting and Center for Public Integrity to relatively small startups like Voice of San Diego and MinnPost—met last summer to form an Investigative News Network to collaborate on fundraising, legal matters, back-office functions, Web site development, and reporting projects. Joe Bergantino, a former Boston television investigative reporter who is director of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University, said such collaboration is vital “if we’re all going to be back next year.”