Citizen Reporting Academy Latest Effort to Combat Media Deserts by Center for Media Innovation
“Our goal is to empower citizens to fill in some of the coverage gaps in their communities, but we also want to partner with news organizations as they look to expand their reach into vulnerable communities. We are seeking to complement the work of traditional journalists by recognizing the effort citizens already are making and giving them the tools to do a better job.”
A drastic reshaping of American media continues, as more and more parts of the country find themselves without local media to cover their communities. Point Park University’s Citizen Reporting Academy, a fully online certificate program, aims to help people interested in filling those gaps.
The program, kicking off this fall, is presented by the University’s Center for Media Innovation and its new School of Continuing and Professional Studies. A pilot of the program was run with Trib Total Media, giving students an opportunity to work with Trib editors and have their stories publish on TribLIVE Local, its growing network of community sites.
Self-directed courses last two weeks each and the program can be completed in six months. Industry-leading professionals will teach classes on how to conduct interviews, create stories and photographs, market your work and monetization.
“Our goal is to empower citizens to fill in some of the coverage gaps in their communities, but we also want to partner with news organizations as they look to expand their reach into vulnerable communities,” said Andrew Conte, associate vice president and managing director of the CMI. “We are seeking to complement the work of traditional journalists by recognizing the effort citizens already are making and giving them the tools to do a better job.”
As part of that goal, Trib Total Media will continue to partner on the Citizen Reporting Academy. The Trib is providing scholarships to the first cohort of the program and several Trib employees will be teaching courses. Those who complete the program will have the opportunity to be paid for any stories they write that are approved for publication on the Trib’s TribLIVE Local sites.
The TribLIVE Local sites are running on the Neighborhood News Network platform, which operates on artificial intelligence technology provided by MeSearch Media Technologies Ltd.
“Trusted user-generated content is an essential supplement to professional journalism and empowers communities of all sizes to be fully informed and engaged,” said Joe Lawrence, who is leading the charge for the Trib’s technology efforts and also serves as CEO of MeSearch. “At the Trib and MeSearch, we are thrilled to be working with Point Park on this important program.”
The CMI has long been an advocate for developing ways to combat media deserts, geographical areas that do not have their own dedicated journalism outlets. Its McKeesport Community Newsroom empowers people in the Mon Valley to tell community stories in collaboration with citizen-led efforts such as the Mon Valley Independent daily newspaper. The Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship offers financial backing to reporters and organizations looking to tell stories in areas impacted by media deserts.
“We have created partnerships with writers and organizations nationwide, and we continue to look for more opportunities to make an impact,” Conte said. “The Citizen Reporting Academy is another way to empower people who want to join the fight.”
The new School of Continuing and Professional Studies operates with a mission of shepherding along students who want to complete their degrees and those looking to improve their workforce skills and marketability with additional training and education.
“The Citizen Reporting Academy is a perfect fit for us,” said Shari Payne, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. “These kind of certificate programs greatly enhance the skills of those who complete them through intensive coursework and training from experts in the field.”
Cost is $300 per course or $2,500 for the nine-course certificate. The first cohort begins Sept. 11, 2023. You can sign up now for a special introductory discount price of $1,800 with the code JOURNALISM. Click here for more information and to enroll.