How might we meet the information needs of communities?

Aug 29 2014

This semester, my team is tackling the issue of community information needs in the United States. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2011 report on this topic, the largest producers of local media are still local television stations and newspapers. But these models are not sustainable and are not adequately meeting community information needs. With our project, we want to address this issue, as well as prepare journalism and communication graduates for future careers in reporting and communication fields.

Our idea
Using the Teach for America program as an example, we are researching the idea of a two-year program for recent journalism graduates to live and report from communities across the nation. In selecting communities to participate, we are planning to focus on areas lacking sufficient news coverage that could benefit from our model.

Work this week
This week we have been researching the Teach for America program and other programs like it in the U.S. to see how these models work. We’ve found that many post-graduate journalism programs like this are for reporting abroad, not in local communities. In the coming week, we’ll be talking to journalism students and professors at UNC about our idea for this program. We’ve also started a research document with information about other higher education institutions that offer studies and programs with community journalism that we want to talk to.

Who we are
Elizabeth Bartholf is a senior from Pittsboro majoring in journalism and Hispanic linguistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last spring she studied abroad in Pamplona, Spain through the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s exchange program and traveled to six countries in seven months. She hopes to return to Spain after graduation and teach English and other subjects in public schools. This is her first semester with the Reese News Lab, and she came to work on something different and unique in the journalism industry.

Hannah Doksansky is a junior from Atlanta, Ga., studying photojournalism. She’s interested in medical journalism and counts Sanjay Gupta among her career “idols.” When she’s not running around the Reese Lab or taking photos, Hannah can be found stocking up on coffee–Starbucks when it’s convenient but Driade when she’s in need of the good stuff.

Amulya Uppalapati is a junior from the Outer Banks studying business journalism. Her dream job is to perform marketing for the Disney Channel. Amulya enjoys working at the Reese News Lab; it’s her third semester being part of this team camping out in the J-school basement. She says it’s the best place at UNC for her to combine her passions for business and journalism. She has also enjoyed working at an Outer Banks marketing agency, where she gained experience in content creation and social media marketing.

Cheney Gardner is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double major in journalism and anthropology. Cheney spent her last summer in Whistler, Canada and would like to return following her graduation in the spring to report on environmental issues and outdoors sports. This is Cheney’s third semester working at the Reese News Lab.


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