New outlet for student journalism

An independent non-profit due to launch early next year will enlist students at the U.C. Berkeley graduate school of journalism to expand local news coverage in the San Francisco area. The Bay Area News Project, funded by a $5 million grant from a local philanthropist, will produce news primarily for the Web and mobile delivery, in collaboration with KQED public radio and television.

The project is hiring a professional staff but expects to involve students as well as faculty at Berkeley. The J-school already produces hyperlocal news sites in the Bay Area, including Mission Local and Oakland North, which presumably could provide some of the content for the new site.

This kind of collaboration makes a lot of sense for journalism schools and their students, and it could provide jobs for some laid-off journalists. In some ways, it’s similar to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University and the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, which also combine student input with professional supervision.

But let’s face it, these kinds of projects can’t begin to re-employ all of the reporters and editors who have lost their jobs in the last couple of years. The project’s Web site says that 500 professional journalists now cover the Bay Area, compared to 900 back then. Collaborative projects provide a great opportunity for students to build their resumes, but they probably won’t make it any easier for J-school graduates to find full-time jobs in the news business.

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