Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson
Northwestern State University Professor of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts Dr. Nick Taylor is one of 33 faculty leaders from colleges across the United States to be named a Faculty Champion for his role in encouraging students to produce and share community news in their local news outlets. The distinction comes with a $1,000 grant from The Center for Community News (CCN) at the University of Vermont, which supports faculty work in creating partnerships between journalism/communications students and the communities where they live.
Taylor is advisor to NSU-TV News Service, a student-led organization that produces news focused on NSU and the local community.
The News Service produces stories for local stations such as KTBS, an ABC affiliate out of Shreveport and KALB out of Alexandria,” Taylor said. “Comprised of students who are completing their internship requirements along with volunteers, the News Service has between 10 and 11 stories, nearly one per week, aired on regional news per semester.”
The students cover football games, holiday parades, festivals and other local events that would not garner coverage from news outlets in Shreveport or Alexandria. Associated with the News Service is the Hispanic Student Journalist Association that produces a Spanish language podcast that produces stories of interest to the Spanish-speaking community.
“CCN is pleased to recognize NSU’s NSU-TV News Service for their outstanding work leading innovate and creative solutions that engage their students in addressing the local news crisis,” said Richard Watts, CCN director. “We are pleased to name Dr. Nick Taylor as a Faculty Champion – a faculty leader in developing hands on learning experiences for their students that also provide much needed local stories – stories that no one else is telling.”
According to research by The Local News Initiative, local news is in a crisis. University-led student reporting programs are stepping in to provide a new source of news to millions of Americans.
“At the core of these local news partnerships are innovative and creative faculty,” Watts said. “This program seeks to recognize them and support their work in connecting and creating more partnerships.”
The crisis in local news has profound implications for the function of democracy, according to the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Since 2004, the U.S. has lost more than 2,100 newspapers with about two closing each week. Two thirds of the counties in the United States have just one daily newspaper with many communities have no local paper at all.
“Local news is more than just a trusted source of critical information. It’s an essential ingredient in a healthy democracy,” Watts said. “Research suggests that communities with dedicated news organizations reporter higher level of civic ties and community engagement, lower levels of political polarization, more transparent and competitive elections and better economic outcomes for residents.
“I want to thank leadership and administration for our department. The support the News Service receives from the department and NSU’s leadership ensures the students can stay focused on producing news and succeeding in classwork,” Taylor said.
Information on NSU’s Department of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts is available at https://www.nsula.edu/newmedia/.