With the media in freefall, newspapers are fighting to survive and journalism schools are struggling to stay relevant. The Anniston Star newspaper and the University of Alabama have found a partnership that could help both. Using a grant from the Knight Foundation, the Anniston Star has started accepting master’s students for a community journalism program to pitch and report stories and supplement the newspaper’s editorial coverage.
The move was met with some resistance from the paper’s editorial staff. Troy Turner, who was the executive editor of the Star before the program began, told the American Journalism Review, “They wanted a training model like a Navy hospital ship. But we worked like a battleship, with all guns blazing. We wanted to continue doing the solid journalism that the Anniston Star had long been known for doing.” Now that the program has started, however, Turner admits that the it’s having some success.
Other journalism schools haven’t had as easy of a time adjusting. When the New York Times partnered with the City University of New York for their own community journalism project, “The Local,” New York Magazine reports that the move was seen as a slight to the University of Columbia venerable journalism school.
Since then Columbia has increased its efforts to stay current. According to New York Magazine, the school will soon offer “a revamped, digitally focused curriculum designed to make all students as capable of creating an interactive graphic as they are of pounding out 600 words on a community-board meeting.” But just as many old-school journalists don’t want to dive into blogging, professors at Columbia are less than enthusiastic about going digital. Ari Goldman, a 16-year professor of Columbia’s Reporting and Writing 1 (RW1) class, is quoted as saying “fuck new media,” describing the move to digital as “an experimentation in gadgetry.”