News media and college students: A match made in heaven?

In what seems to be a growing trend, colleges and universities are pairing with traditional news media to cover underserved communities and populate hyperlocal news sites. The New York Times recently announced that it will partner with The City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism to cover areas of Brooklyn. The UC Berkeley School of Journalism has partnered with several news organizations, including a notable partnership with financier Warren Hellman and public radio station KQED to form a non-profit online news operation. You can read about similar partnerships here, here, here and here.

The trend raises the question: are media organizations using college journalism students to fill the gap of traditional reporting and better serve local communities or are students being used as cheap labor?

It is worth noting that college journalism students are often bright and talented young journalists looking to hone their skills in an academic environment. Some students, especially those in graduate programs, often have substantial experience in the newsroom or have worked previously as a full-time journalist. The partnerships can benefit both the students who gain practical experience and news media who can expand the reach of the newsroom.

But are news organizations avoiding paying full or part-time reporters in favor of tapping the skills of students who only require academic credit rather than financial compensation? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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