Tuesday, September 17, 2019

West Virginia initiative seeks to recruit, train and support new rural community newspaper owners and publishers

Rural journalism is facing a problem: many newspaper owners want to retire but can't find a buyer. A new initiative, NewStart, addresses that issue by trying to recruit, train and support new community newspaper owners and publishers. NewStart is a collaboration between West Virginia University's Reed College of Media and the West Virginia Press Association.

Buying a community paper is no act of charity, the NewStart website says: Rural papers "are often family-owned and remain trusted sources of news and information in the communities they serve. They also remain economically viable because of the continued demand for their exclusive hyper-local coverage and their commitment to improving their local communities." In other words, the website says, "They're profitable. And they're available. Right now."

Potential new owners could be anyone from college students with a thirst for entrepreneurship, journalists who want to own their own paper, laid off journalists from larger publications who want to start over, or entrepreneurs who have no journalism experience but value its importance, according to the website. NewStart aims to provide a transition plan that matches buyers with publications and extensively trains new owners on how to run and grow the paper. Read more about NewStart here.

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