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Mercer University takes charge to save local news outlets

Mercer University is initiating a program designed to save local news outlets, while at the same time, teach journalism students about the industry.
Mercer University is initiating a program designed to save local news outlets, while at the same time, teach journalism students about the industry.

Mercer University, a 179-year-old institution in Georgia, plans to take initiative and work towards saving the future of local journalism. The printing industry has suffered severe circulation and revenue issues, and The Telegraph – a Macon-based paper – is no different.

However, university officials are starting a $5.6 million project to bring aid to the paper and a local Georgia radio station as well, according to The New York Times.

Mercer's president, John Underwood, told news source that he is looking to institute a type of medical residency model into journalism. For example, reporters for the newspaper will work out of the campus's new journalism center. Then, students will collaborate with the professionals, assisting where needed, but still under guidance from their professors.

"I want young people to be able to practice journalism ethically and competently the day they graduate," Underwood said to the news source. "I have a concern about the future of local print journalism. There's nothing more vital to a functioning democracy."

Similar moves have been made in the past. In 2011, the New America Foundation encouraged journalism schools to aid local media outlets in what it called embracing the model of an "anchor institution."

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