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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Two rural Iowa newspapers saved from extinction

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024   

The University of Iowa's daily newspaper has purchased two small-town papers as part of an attempt to keep local news alive in rural Iowa, while at the same time giving university journalism students more real-world experience.

Experts who study the practice of journalism said the acquisition might be the first of its kind. The university's student-run newspaper, the Daily Iowan, bills itself as an independent student paper with an audience of about 50,000, run by 100 student employees. It just bought The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun and The Solon Economist.

Richard Watts, director of the Center for Community News at the University of Vermont, which analyzes the impact of student-run journalism operations. He said it could be a solution to shore up local news deserts.

"Across the country, we're losing two newspapers a week," Watts pointed out. "It's a tremendous crisis. Some 80 million Americans have no source of local news."

Watts argued well-run student newspapers, while owned by universities, adhere to the same rigorous editorial and ethical standards as stand-alone journalism operations, and contended investing in local papers that would otherwise fail is an important place for colleges and universities to invest, and could serve as a model in other places facing a loss of local news reporting.

Watts noted universities have the staff, space and resources to keep local papers and information outlets alive in news deserts, not just in Iowa but across the country.

"Many universities and colleges are located in rural areas," Watts explained. "There's 1,316 college campuses that are located in a news desert or adjacent to a news desert. So that's 1,300 college campuses with some institutional strength that could step in and address this."

The Solon and Mount Vernon-Lisbon papers, both within a half-hour of the university's Iowa City campus, have historically covered local news, which the publisher said will now be able to continue. Terms of the deals were not disclosed but the money came out of The Daily Iowan's operating budget.


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