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Application opens for WVU College of Media’s NewStart Fellowship

NewStart, a local news ownership initiative that aims to recruit, train and support the next generation of community newspaper owners and publishers across the country, is accepting applications for the fellowship program. 

The year-long fellowship is for anyone with a bachelor’s degree who is interested in owning a local newspaper. Fellows will receive training in both journalism and business practices with an emphasis on digital transition and new funding models for media. They will also be placed in apprenticeships at West Virginia newspapers, where they will learn firsthand the day-to-day challenges of running a small-market newspaper in a local community.

More than 90 percent of newspapers in the U.S. are “small market,” with a circulation of 50,000 or less. These newspapers are often family-owned and remain trusted sources of news and information in the communities they serve. 

“They’re looking for people to come into their towns, become part of the community, and own and run the paper,” said Jim Iovino, the leader behind NewStart. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that that paper is set up for the long term.”

Iovino joined the College of Media in July as the Ogden Newspapers Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Innovation. A graduate of Penn State University, he worked as a reporter in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington, D.C. before being named the deputy managing editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where his team was awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Reporting for its Tree of Life massacre coverage. 

This one-of-a-kind fellowship program provides a comprehensive ownership transition plan that matches potential buyers with publications that want to sell, and offers extensive training for the new owners on how to manage, operate and grow their media properties. NewStart also is establishing a collaborative community of media entrepreneurs, who can share best practices and work together to create a sustainable model for local journalism.

Funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, NewStart is a partnership between the West Virginia University Reed College of Media and the West Virginia Press Association that aims to create a pipeline of small-market newspaper owners throughout the Mountain State.

Visit www.newstart.media to learn more or apply to the program.