College Students Helping Solve the Crisis Facing Local News

Jason Torreano

Bloomfield College is one of 33 colleges and universities across the nation recently granted funding by the Center for Community News (CCN), housed at the University of Vermont, as part of a new initiative focused on helping to solve the crisis facing local news. In announcing the grant, CCN named Bloomfield College Instructor of Media Communications Jason Torreano, a “Faculty Champion” for student-led local news stories.

CCN documents university-led student reporting programs where student stories are picked up in the news media, providing important content to struggling local news outlets and giving students essential applied learning experiences.

“CCN is pleased to recognize Bloomfield College for its outstanding work leading innovative and creative programs that engage their students in addressing the local news crisis. We are pleased to name Professor Jason Torreano as a Faculty Champion – a faculty leader in developing hands-on learning experiences for students that also provide much needed local stories – stories that no one else is telling.”

The CCN $1,000 grant to Bloomfield College acknowledges and celebrates the building of a partnership between Bloomfield College students and Public Square Amplified, a Black woman-run and centered news organization based in Newark, to increase content for the community and build student skills and confidence.

“Through the partnership, we will weave intentional engagement with Public Square Amplified into my fall Journalism 1 course by having students work on projects in tandem with the news outlet’s news professionals as part of the course,” said Torreano. “It is a win-win all around, with Bloomfield College students receiving real-world experience that transcends the boundaries of the campus and the students supporting the critical role of local news media.”

CCN partners and consults with newsrooms (print/broadcast/online), universities and industry leaders in the fields of journalism, media and information to address the crisis in local news, asserting that local news “has profound implications for the function of our democracy.” CCN references research suggesting that communities with dedicated news organizations report higher levels of civic ties and community engagement; lower levels of political polarization; more transparent and competitive elections; and better economic outcomes for residents.

According to a report from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, since 2004, the United States has lost more than 2,100 newspapers; and today, two thirds of U.S. counties have just one daily newspaper and more than 200 have no local newspaper at all.

The Center for Community News at the University of Vermont (UVM) is helping to connect student journalists at every stage of life with local news organizations to help build a world in which every community has access to reliable information by and for the people who live there. The Center is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and UVM College of Arts & Sciences donors.

Photo: Jason Torreano, Instructor of Media Communications at Bloomfield College, was named a “Faculty Champion” for student-led local news stories by the Center for Community News at the University of Vermont.

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