Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, March 26, 2010

Michigan Radio to share in grant to create Local Journalism Center

Michigan Radio — along with other public radio stations from around the nation — has received a major grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to help launch a regional effort to improve local journalism.

From left, Patricia Harrison, CEO and president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Steve Schram, U-M director of broadcasting; and Tamar Charney, Michigan Radio program director, were on hand for Thursday's grant announcement. (Photo by Mike Waring)

Director of Broadcasting Steve Schram and Program Director Tamar Charney were on-hand for a ceremony Thursday in Washington, D.C., where it was announced Michigan Radio will share a grant totaling $972,000 to develop a Local Journalism Center (LJC) for the Upper Midwest.

Public radio station WBEZ in Chicago and ideastream, a multimedia public radio and TV consortium in Cleveland, also will share in the project, which will focus on reinventing the industrial heartland and in particular the economy in the upper Midwest. Partner stations will create multimedia content on the region’s changing economy and report it out via radio, television, digital and community programs. The partnering organizations will hire three new reporters, a senior editor and a senior producer.

Similar grants are being awarded to local journalism centers in six other regions of the country. Funding for all seven regions totals $10.5 million over two years, with the expectation that each center will become self-sustaining by the end of the funding cycle.

As recipients of the CPB grant, Michigan Radio and its partners will tell the story of “Changing Gears: Remaking the Manufacturing Belt.” The stations’ ongoing coverage will look at the past, present and future of the industrial Midwest through the production of feature reports, regional call-in discussions, community town hall events, blogs and other online features.

“Throughout our region’s economic challenges, Michigan Radio has placed a high priority on keeping people informed and engaged in discussing options for the future,” says Schram. “In response, we have produced significant content around the issue, including special series like “Facing the Mortgage Crisis,” “Generation Y Michigan,” and “Foreclosing on the American Dream.” We saw the need to expand and diversify this coverage, and took the lead to apply for this grant, and asked our colleagues in Chicago and Cleveland to join us in making this a regional effort.”

“These Local Journalism Centers will enhance public media’s ability to meet the information needs of local communities at a time when access to high quality, original reporting is declining,” says Patricia Harrison, CEO and president of CPB. “Public media has long provided independent and in-depth coverage of local issues and public policy. The need for that coverage is even greater today, and we have a responsibility to ensure that journalism can continue to thrive and serve the needs of our democracy.”

The LJC-generated content also will be made available to the entire public media system and will be provided to the general public across multiple platforms, including television and radio broadcast, online, social media and via mobile services.