The Salt Lake Tribune is teaming up with the nonprofit Amplify Utah to support student journalists at Salt Lake Community College who will report on Utah’s diverse communities and engage younger readers.
The yearlong project, which is funded through the Google GNI Innovation Challenge, was announced Tuesday. Students will begin reporting during the spring semester in 2021.
“We have students from every corner of society at a community college, and there’s just really deep rich stories that I don’t know we always have access to otherwise,” said Marcie Young Cancio, executive director of Amplify Utah and an assistant professor of journalism and digital media at SLCC.
Young Cancio — who’s a veteran newspaper reporter, magazine editor and digital and television news executive — founded Amplify Utah this past summer to increase diversity in local media. It will develop news readers through media literacy education and by amplifying underrepresented voices.
Through her nonprofit and her position at SLCC, Young Cancio will work with students in an introductory journalism class. They will cover a broad range of diversity, equity and inclusion issues, including those that affect them personally as members of Utah’s Black, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, refugee, veteran, LGBTQIA+ and incarcerated communities.
Project leaders anticipate stories will cover homelessness and poverty, policing and racial discrimination, women’s issues, and life in prison or as a working student, among other topics.
The Tribune will create a new section on sltrib.com to elevate this reporting. Amplify Utah will showcase and archive all the stories, photos and videos from this project, which will be available for media outlets to publish for free. SLCC’s Student Media Center and The Globe, the student newspaper and website, also will share the coverage on websites, in print publications and on social media platforms.
“This is a really cool opportunity,” Young Cancio said, for student journalists to be published in The Tribune and other local media.
The students also will work with the college’s special assistant to the president for inclusivity and equity, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center, and the Thayne Center for Service and Learning to find powerful stories.
“Salt Lake Community College is the most diverse institution of higher education in the state of Utah,” noted Young Cancio.
According to SLCC, 31% of students at the school identify as minorities. The community college also serves refugees, immigrant “Dreamers” brought to the country illegally as children, nontraditional students, veterans and incarcerated adults through programming offered at the Utah Prison System.
Project leaders hope to create a playbook to help other community colleges across the country collaborate with local media to tell more rich, diverse stories, Young Cancio said.
Young Cancio said she also sees this project as an opportunity for news organizations exploring how to build a solid future for journalism, as newspapers across the country grapple with the transition from a printed product to a digital focus.
The Tribune is the first legacy U.S. newspaper to remake itself as a nonprofit, after winning IRS approval to pursue 501(c)(3) status in fall 2019. Paul Huntsman, who bought the Salt Lake City-based newspaper in 2016, gave up sole ownership, and the newspaper converted from being privately held to being funded by the community through subscriptions, advertising and public donations.
In October, The Tribune announced it will stop printing a daily edition at year’s end and will switch to a weekly printed newspaper in 2021. The Deseret News also decided to replace its daily print edition with a weekly for readers in Utah and another for those outside its borders, along with a national monthly magazine it will call Deseret. The changes came as the two papers approached the end of their contract for a generations-long print business partnership.
In the weeks since, The Tribune has launched a redesign of sltrib.com. And leaders of the 150-year-old newspaper said the new weekly print edition will become a showcase for The Tribune’s best enterprise work and in-depth coverage of politics, religion, business, sports, arts and culture. For more information, visit sltrib.com/digital-subscriptions-faq/.
The project with Amplify Utah and SLCC is the second time The Tribune has received funding through the Google GNI Innovation Challenge. The first was in 2019 in support of The Tribune’s vision of becoming a nonprofit.