Friday, September 23, 2011

Grant will help rural journalists in South Dakota collaborate on coverage of rural issues

The nation's largest journalism foundation has given a South Dakota group $242,000 to "create an alliance of rural journalists to provide in-depth reporting on topics vital to rural South Dakota," the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation said in a news release.

The money will go to the South Dakota Community Foundation to create Dakotafire Media, which will connect rural journalists "through online meetings, social networking and collaborative writing software – allowing them to cover topics they couldn’t meaningfully address alone," the release says. The grant is for three years.

"The journalists, many of whom come from newspapers with staffs of three or fewer people, will also be able to exchange ideas and learn from each other. As some of these newspapers don’t have websites, Dakotafire will offer an online presence for them. The funding comes at a time of great change in the rural Dakotas, where the population is declining and aging, and metro newspapers are retreating to urban centers."

The editor and program administrator of Dakotafire is Heidi Marttila-Losure, right, most recently a copy editor at the Center for Independent Media and previously the chief copy editor and Facets editor at the Ames Tribune in Iowa. She has long been interested in rural issues, and in 2005 was a participant in "Rural America, Community Issues," a week-long program of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland.

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