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Mercer announces Center for Collaborative Journalism

*Updated January 26, 2012

At the close of fall semester, Mercer President William Underwood announced an effort sponsored by the Knight Foundation to bring together professional journalists and students in a joint newsroom in College Hill Corridor.
A $4.6 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will create the Center for Collaborative Journalism, to be located on the first floor of Phase II of the Lofts. Mercer is partnering with The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB Media) to give students a chance to work alongside professionals in the field.
The effort is also aimed at expanding media involvement in the community. In coming years, the joint newsroom will lead community engagement projects that involve Macon residents in creating the news by choosing which issues to cover, reporting, debating problems and creating solutions.
“We hope Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism and GPB Radio Macon will shine as examples of the kinds of journalistic excellence in the digital age that helps communities build themselves,” said Beverly Blake, Macon program director for Knight Foundation. “I am proud of Macon, and I want it to thrive. A vibrant information ecosystem will help that.”
Mercer is receiving $3.74 million of the grant to create the center itself, which will be part of a mixed-use building in the Lofts also housing Mercer students.

“GPB is a trusted Macon citizen and an active presence in the communities of Central Georgia,” said Teya Ryan, president and executive director of GPB Media. “Combining the talents of the Telegraph newsroom with GPB Radio and tapping into the digital DNA of Mercer journalism students, we will create a town hall for Macon and Central Georgia with more enterprise reporting, more storytelling about this community and far greater reach across all media platforms.”
In addition to GPB staff, editors of The Telegraph will have offices in the Center.
“Our goal with this partnership is to harness our collective resources to elevate community and civic journalism, involve and engage more citizens, readers, listeners, web and mobile users, and provide a unique learning environment for both new and seasoned journalists,” said Sherrie Marshall, Executive Editor of The Telegraph.
Phase II of the Lofts is set to open in July 2012. The Journalism and Media Studies department will be in the Center.
“In order for local media to survive, they have to go hyper local,” said Jay Black, assistant professor of journalism. “Small community newspapers will have to beef up their reporting on local issues because it’s the only place people can get info about their community. What we’re trying to do with this new center is find a way of teaching this hyper local news in today’s converged media atmosphere,” added Black.
Cynthia Gottshall, head of the journalism department, is optimistic about the effect the move will have on students. “[They] will have the direct opportunity to work with professionals. That kind of collaboration can only benefit the students,” she said.
Kaleigh Manson, a junior journalism major, is also excited about the Center. “Hopefully it will open up opportunities for for students,” she said.
Larry Brumley, Senior Vice President for Marketing Communications and Chief of Staff, said it has not yet been decided how student media outlets like The Cluster will be affected by the move.
According to Brumley, the administration is focused on recruiting a director for the Center and will hold a prospective student visitation day on March 24 for high school students interested in journalism and communications.




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