Community newspapers are struggling and many are failing, and in rural areas if your local paper dies, often there is nothing to take its place. As real news collapses and fake news has become widespread, people say they don’t know who to trust. We must help local journalists, and WCMU is uniquely positioned to do so. We cover half the state of Michigan, we hold our content creators to high standards and are affiliated with a respected news source (NPR), and instead of competing with local papers, we are able to work with them to add to their coverage.
In a move to throw a lifeline to local newspapers and the communities they serve, the Michigan News Group places interns in small, rural newspapers for free. WCMU pays the students’ wages, and we ask only that the newspapers provide a place for them to work and any needed training on their specific shop’s needs. Small newsrooms that are operating with a handful of staff are thrilled to have another, eager journalist to help out. As Editor Eric Young with the Huron Daily Tribune said just this year, “We were short a position the entire summer as we continue to struggle to hire new employees. Teresa essentially filled that position for us while we search for someone. She is a newspaper’s dream.”
At the same time it’s helping local newspapers, this program provides content to WCMU, and it is an amazing training ground for young journalists. In three short years, it has become the most sought-after journalism internship program at Central Michigan University.
“This might be the best professional/academic partnership in Michigan to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities emerging in today’s complicated media landscape,” says Dave Clark, Director of Student Media, Central Michigan University, Board member, Michigan Press Association, Central Michigan Life adviser
The Michigan News Group internship took its first tentative steps in 2019. It expanded, even during a pandemic, in 2020, and expanded again this year to eight interns at newspapers in wildly diverse communities. We would love to continue expanding, and the need is strong. This is local that works for students, our station, and communities around Michigan.