The West Virginia University Reed College of Media has received a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to help strengthen local journalism in West Virginia and preserve it for the future by creating a new ownership pipeline.
The $125,000 grant will support a partnership between the College of Media and the West Virginia Press Association (WVPA) to recruit, develop and train the next generation of independent community newspaper owners. The program anticipates that a number of West Virginia’s small-market newspaper owners and publishers will be ready to retire and sell their news operations over the next several years, creating potential news “deserts” in their local communities.
The grant will support the development of a three-year program designed to recruit and train new potential owners and to help current owners prepare their businesses for sale. A goal of the program is to facilitate successful ownership transitions that maintain a strong local news presence in West Virginia. Another goal is to help news organizations adapt and modernize their operations to respond to the demands of today’s local news and information consumer.
A key component of the program will be a year-long fellowship for potential new owners, located at the West Virginia Reed College of Media. Fellows will receive training in both journalism and business practices with an emphasis on digital transition and new funding models for media. They will also be placed in “internships” at West Virginia newspapers, where they will learn firsthand the day-to-day challenges of running a small-market newspaper in a local community…