December 09, 2010

Grant-funded Write for Arkansas reporter, editor promote community journalism at university

From today's edition of The Arkansas Publisher Weekly:

This August five new pairs of feet hit the streets to begin covering local news across Arkansas. Through the Write for Arkansas initiative, a collaboration between Arkansas Community Foundation and the Arkansas Press Association, five community newspapers – the Texarkana Gazette, The Courier of Russellville, the Stuttgart Daily Leader, Areawide Media of Salem and the Madison County Record – received grants to fund an additional reporting position each.

While the primary purpose of the grant program is to support the vital work of community newspapers by increasing their reporting capacity, an important secondary goal is raise awareness of the continuing need for trained, professional journalists to cover local issues.

To that end, Write for Arkansas reporter Sarah Morris of the Stuttgart Daily Leader and her editor Lesley Valadez traveled to Arkansas State University last month to speak to first-year journalism students about the field of community journalism. Their main message, Morris said, was that “journalism is still alive and the need for community reporting is still there.” Morris and Valadez gave students advice on advancing their careers in journalism. “We talked about how internships and multimedia skills were also important in grabbing the jobs,” Morris said.

The young journalists in training were especially interested in how multimedia is shaping the future of community news. “The main questions they asked were what types of internships I held and how they helped, as well as what type of multimedia the Stuttgart Daily Leader used. They were interested in knowing how it was working out for us.” . . .

As the Write for Arkansas initiative moves forward, the reporters plan to seek additional opportunities to reach out to student journalists and encourage a future generation of community reporters. Learn more about the Write for Arkansas initiative at

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