There is clearly no one-size-fits-all model for news-academic partnerships. From funding to platforms to university resources to communities served, numerous factors shape how these newsrooms operate and why. Below are cornerstone resources for considering how your program could take shape/evolve and examples of some of these models.

Mission & Vision

Before choosing a program model, the purpose, audience and message for the news organization needs to be clarified. (See questions for determining PAM.) Brainstorming for your situation is crucial, too, such as what gaps (geographic, topical, demographic) your newsroom would address within the community you are serving. Use the templates and playbooks below to think through these big questions.


How to Build or Expand a News-Academic Partnership Worksheet
Amplify Utah Playbook, a step-by-step guide for building a news-academic partnership
College Media Playbook, by Sydney Lewis with support from the Reynolds Journalism Institute

Program Models

There is a full list of case studies and a report by Richard Watts that summarizes the depth and breadth of model options, but here are a few example programs, separated by type, to inspire and guide.

As a specific course

LakeVoice News (case study and fact sheet)
The Oglethorpe Echo (case study and fact sheet)
Oxford Observer (case study and fact sheet)
Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting at American University (case study and fact sheet)

As an independent news organization

Columbia Missourian (case study and fact sheet)
Cronkite News (case study and fact sheet)
Eudora Times (fact sheet)
Philadelphia Neighborhoods (case study and fact sheet)

As a news service

Columbia News Service
Fresh Take Florida (fact sheet)
NSU-TV News Service (case study and fact sheet)
The Reporting Project (case study and fact sheet)
University of Vermont’s Community News Service (fact sheet)

As a topic-driven newsroom or program

Ball State Sustainability Stories (case study and fact sheet)
LSU’s Cold Case Project (case study and fact sheet)
Quinnipiac University’s Ability Media (case study and fact sheet)
Medill’s Social Justice Reporting Program (case study and fact sheet)
University of Nevada Reno’s Noticiero Movil (case study and fact sheet)
Wisconsin Watch (case study)

As a statehouse bureau (full report)

FAMU Capital Bureau Class (case study and fact sheet)
Franklin College Statehouse File (case study and fact sheet)
Nebraska News Service (fact sheet)
University of Hawai’i at Manoa Civil Beat (case study and fact sheet)

As a partnership with professional newsroom(s)

The Daily Athenaeum (case study and fact sheet)
Illinois Student Newsroom at Illinois Public Media (case study and fact sheet)
Kent State News Lab (case study and fact sheet)
The Macon Newsroom

As an alternative model

Potter Ambassadors
Digital Natives
UGA’s Visual Journalism programs
High school journalists program at North Texas

Resources for Awards and Honors

Part of growing a program is gaining recognition for its quality. Below is a list of organizations that you can consider submitting student work to in order to provide encouragement for your students and the community they serve.

Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts and other competitions
College Media Association contests
Institute for Nonprofit News Awards
Online Journalism Awards (ONA) with student categories
American Scholastic Press Association Awards
State press association awards and broadcasters association awards (if applicable)
Society of Professional Journalists awards
Hearst Journalism Awards
News Guild list of other contests and awards

Leadership Structures

Faculty-led newsroom:

In this model, college faculty are the lead editors and executive producers for the reporting. Sometimes news organization leaders participate, too, but in many cases, content will simply be published by the newsroom once it’s vetted and approved by the faculty in the partnership.

Job descriptions and examples:

The Statehouse File at Franklin College, executive editor Colleen Steffen;
Grady Newsource, director Dodie Cantrell-Bickley, executive producer Ralitsa Vassileva and managing editor Amanda Bright

External editor:

With the help of extra funding, some news-academic partnerships hire a part-time or full-time editor/producer, outside of a faculty role or specific course assignment, in order to act as leadership of the news-academic partnership and/or share the load for editing and providing feedback for publication or broadcast.

Job descriptions and examples:

UVM Community News Service, editor Justin Trombly
The Oglethorpe Echo, editor Andy Johnston

News organization-led:

Other partnerships are built on the premise that the newsroom leaders will do the vetting and approval of content, while the faculty member plays a secondary role with instruction. In these models, newsroom leadership works with students and/or faculty in order to get reporting to publication or broadcast level.

Job descriptions and examples:

The Macon Newsroom
Arizona PBS

Workflow and Roles

The roles students take on in your newsroom (as well as the role(s) faculty play) will depend on too many variables to name, but there are key considerations — once a program model is established — that can keep the newsroom workflow efficient and effective.


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