Change is inevitable. The days of the daily paper being printed and delivered to waiting customers to learn about current events and community news is being shifted to websites and social media.

How does a small, community paper keep up? What do you do when your reporters are not the most technically savvy in this increasing digital world?

You get digital natives to come into your newspaper for one week and provide a crash course on how to maximize multimedia and social media for your newspaper.

After speaking with community newspapers around Missouri, Walter B. Potter Jr. worked with the Missouri School of Journalism’s Reynolds Journalism Institute to develop the Potter Digital Ambassador program.

The premise is simple: recruit students from the journalism school and send them to live and work for a small community newspaper for one week during their winter break.  

The digitally savvy young journalists, who are proficient in a range of media, will work with a news organization training their staff in digital tools and practices, and leave written routines that would sustain the initiatives they brought to the news organizations.

The newspapers are selected through an application process that focuses on digital needs, a willingness to welcome the students and an ability to follow-through on the week’s objectives.

Students are selected according to how well their skill sets matched the newspaper’s needs, and how closely their backgrounds coincided with the size and nature of the community.

The end result? Students establish relationships with working journalist and get to see up close how a community newspaper operates. And the newspapers? They learn a new skill to enhance their story telling and get their information to the people that matter… their community.

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