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The New Mexico News Port

A Pipeline of Journalism Talent and


Innovation from the University of New Mexico

First iteration of News Port concept proposed to Online News Association in 2014

Report: NM News Port @ 5 years


2014-2019

@​NM​NewsPort
Michael V. Marcotte
UNM Professor of Practice in Journalism
Celia Raney
Senior Editor, New Mexico News Port
Fall 2019
Contents
Preface
Mission: Innovation + Collaboration + Publication
Our Work to Date
Our Publishing Work
Our Innovation Work
Our Collaboration Work
Our Metrics of Impact and Success
Our Accolades
Long Term Aspirations
Conclusion

Preface
The ​New Mexico News Port​ was the result of a grant received from the Online News
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Association in 2014. The idea for it sprang from a need, identified in a 2013 external study , to
improve student publishing opportunities at UNM’s Communication and Journalism
Department. That study offered various remedies, including creating three Professor of Practice
positions, building collaborative relationships with local journalism entities, and offering
journalism students real-world multimedia publishing experience.

Subsequently, Michael Marcotte became the first Professor of Practice at UNM that year and
took on a challenge presented by the Online News Association encouraging schools to “​hack
the curriculum​,” demonstrating models where students ​learn journalism by doing journalism.

Funded by five foundations — Knight, McCormick, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism, Rita
Allen and Democracy Fund — our grant application was one of 12 accepted proposals from 125
participating U.S. colleges and universities.

Since our founding with that $35,000 grant, the News Port has published some 700 multimedia
reports from some 350 students (about 35 per semester), many of them Hispanic and many

1
​ niversity of New Mexico Communication and Journalism Review,​” was commissioned by UNM
The report, ​“U
President Robert Frank and authored by consultants Geneva Overholser (USC), Stanley Wearden (Kent St.) and Don
McGuire (Retired Executive). It included consultations with UNM media outlets KUNM-FM, KNME-TV, The Daily
Lobo and University Communications and Marketing.
Native American — and, in most cases, their News Port byline was their first-ever published
work.

A second year grant of $50,000 from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation allowed
us to retain professional editor Kate Nash Cunningham, employ interns, and replace
hand-me-down computers in the News Port lab.

Years three and four brought more partnerships and modest funding. We funneled interns into
the ​People, Power & Democracy Project,​ a collaborative to cover state government. We
launched new beats and we hosted a professional news team from the Asian American
Journalists Association covering ​criminal justice issues​.

People noticed. Our project was featured in a dozen ​national articles ​and at five national
conferences. (See lessons from our launch captured in ​this PBS Mediashift article​.) We also
won some impressive awards, locally, regionally and nationally, including ​ONA’s Grand Prize​ in
2015.

As we complete our fifth year, News Port has survived the pains of a small start-up in a
resource-poor environment to become a fixture in the UNM journalism program. The long term
sustainability of News Port depended on moving toward a student-powered model — now using
paid intern editors and powering the site with mostly classroom-generated reporting.

There’s room to improve but we continue to invite outside partners and supporters to work with
us. Most importantly, we continue to explore this emerging model in which a university-based
news lab can serve the larger local news ecosystem of New Mexico.

We hope this report inspires your interest and support.

Michael V. Marcotte
Professor of Practice
Communication & Journalism Dept.
University of New Mexico
(505) 289-0489
mmarcotte@unm.edu
Mission: Innovation + Collaboration + Publication
The News Port works in three ways: 1) as a publishing and distribution platform, 2) as a digital
innovation lab, and 3) as a collaboration hub for faculty, students and outside partners.
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In these ways, News Port serves critical needs in the​ ​local news ecosystem including:
● Building journalistic skills and expertise
● Providing a pipeline of diverse talent
● Meeting information needs of communities
● Engaging audiences in community conversations
● Helping all stakeholders adapt to technological change

The News Port is built into the core curriculum of the UNM Communication and Journalism
Department.

Each semester, some 35 students in the intermediate reporting course and the advanced
reporting course are trained in professional skills, values and practices of multimedia news.
Their stories are vetted and edited by experienced faculty and by News Port staff or by editors
at partner organizations.

The lab also employs students as editors and helps arrange student work with partner
organizations. In our fifth year, we also began our first ever newsroom internship, which brought
in two student journalists to write and publish under the News Port for class credit.

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For deeper understanding of this concept, see Democracy Fund’s conceptual mapping project called the​ ​Local
News & Participation System​.
Our Work to Date

Screenshot of New Mexico News Port website in November 2019.


Our Publishing Work
As a news publisher, News Port serves the people of New Mexico with original reporting in a
multimedia format delivered via a modified WordPress site and via social media channels.

We take on a lot, and are proud to offer our students chances to work alongside professional
journalists in our community. Since diving into the 2014 elections in our first semester, we have
published more than 700 stories from more than 350 students.

Our reporters used the 2015 spring semester developing an audience-centric approach to
reporting, a project called​ ​Curious New Mexico​, where the public poses questions to be curated,
researched and reported. The database captured some 250 questions resulting in about 40
stories.

We pivoted again for the 2015-2016 school year, concentrating on​ ​Creative New Mexico​, an
in-depth focus on our region’s startup economy — profiling interesting entrepreneurs, visiting
business experts and sitting in on pitches from innovators. The project produced over 120
stories and was captured in ​this MediaShift article​.

While these content areas have continued, our 2016 fall semester returned to​ ​Political New
Mexico​ — a focus on elections and policy issues.

In 2019 we decided to grow our site in tandem with the ever growing state of New Mexico,
adding Green New Mexico and Enjoy New Mexico. Green New Mexico focuses stories about the
environment: energy, climate change, water, air and natural resources. stories about music,
arts, leisure, culture, humanities, sports and recreation.

Our Innovation Work


As a digital innovation lab, News Port experiments with publishing platforms, social media tools,
mobile reporting, audio/visual tools and apps, and new forms of storytelling.

Our social media platforms include an active ​Twitter feed​ (more than 1,600 tweets and over
1700 followers), a ​Facebook page​, an ​instagram account​ (184 followers), a ​Youtube account
(over 5000 views), a ​SoundCloud account​ (41 tracks), a ​Storify site​ (1300 views), ​Google Plus
and a ​Snapchat account​.

We use other digital tools including IFTTT, Thinglink, Slack, Bit.ly, Rebelmouse and almost all
things Google (Drive, docs, sheets, slides, maps, fusion tables, analytics, etc.) to push our
students into the increasingly digital world.

As mentioned, we use a WordPress site with the Fullby Premium Child theme with a suite of
plug-ins including BackupBuddy, Akismet, Captcha, Co-Authors Plus, Composium, Jetpack, Edit
Flow, Kebo, Page Builder, Revolution Slider and others. The site is hosted by UNM.
In operation, experimentation may take place in the classroom or it originates in the News Port
lab, as in the five talk-show-like Periscope and Facebook Live feeds we ran for Creative New
Mexico coverage, or in a combination of classes as in the Twitter Town Hall we employed to
provide a live Twitter debate in a local congressional race.

Experimental topics courses have also helped News Port innovate, collaborate and publish
across the curriculum. These have included courses on covering criminal justice issues and one
produced in association with UNM’s ​Innovation Academy​, “Innovations in Media
Entrepreneurship,” in which students learned “design thinking” to prototype media products and
services, resulting in a pitch contest for the best design.

UNM students studying media entrepreneurism participate in a final pitch session at


Albuquerque’s Fat Pipe co-working space. (Photo: Mike Marcotte)
YouTube video produced by News Port interns capturing highlights from year one. (​Click to view on YouTube​.)

Our Collaboration Work


As a collaboration hub, News Port has partnered with television (​NMPBS​), radio (​KUNM​),
newspaper (​Daily Lobo​), and online (​New Mexico In Depth​). Through these partners, we’ve also
become acquainted with an entire network of newspaper, online and broadcast outlets.

New partners are always welcome. We’ve had dialogues with The Albuquerque Journal, The
Santa Fe New Mexican, KSFR-FM, KOAT-TV, KRQE-TV, KOB-TV, The Albuquerque Free
Press, Albuquerque Business First and New Mexico Political Report.

For two spring semesters, News Port helped power the high-profile​ ​People, Power &
Democracy​ project covering NM state government. Our contribution was to place interns into the
coverage and help promote the project on multiple platforms.

In fall 2016, News Port became an exclusive partner with New Mexico In Depth in providing a
paid, ​one-year diversity fellowship​ to cover news for NMID while based at UNM.

In 2017, we modeled a professional-in-residence program -- hosting journalists from


Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Asian-American Journalists Association -- spending a
year covering ​criminal justice issues​. A class was created to bring students along and News
Port, in turn, launched its Justice New Mexico beat.
In fall 2019, our student editors created a “newsroom” internship designed to mimic a daily
newsroom environment while allowing students to earn internship credits through the
university. The two interns hired helped bring a wide range of spot news and in depth coverage
that to help fill gaps in our classroom story intervals, giving the site a more continuous flow of
new content.

In 2020, News Port will benefit from the launch of a Local News Fellowship program based in
the Communication and Journalism Department. That $100,000 grant will mostly provide
stipends for our journalism graduates to work in local newsrooms, but some of the money
comes back to the department in a fund that supports News Port operations, since News Port is
a key training ground for our graduates.

Our Metrics of Impact and Success


Our primary metric of success is student, faculty and partner involvement -- demonstrating
influence in our school’s curriculum and the professional portfolios of our graduates.

In five years some 350 students working with the reporting classes at UNM have been
published in the News Port. We are now seated in the UNM Communication & Journalism
curriculum, proving especially central for the capstone course (CJ 475 Advanced Multimedia
Reporting) and its prerequisite (CJ 375 Intermediate Multimedia Reporting). It’s also served as
an outlet for students in CJ 360 Broadcast News, CJ 361 Photojournalism, IFDM 491 Mobile
Reporting and CJ 278 News Writing.

Money is somewhat of a success barometer, though News Port has yet to develop a long-term
sustainability plan. During its brief lifespan, News Port has helped raise, directly or indirectly,
nearly $300,000 in funding for activities benefiting our journalism students:

● $35,000 from ONA to start News Port in 2014-2015.


● $50,000 from EEJF to support News Port in 2015-2016.
● $10,000 from ONA for winning National Grand Prize in 2015.
● $15,000 from Asian-American Journalism Association to News Port for criminal justice
project in 2016-2017.
● $12,000 from Thornburg Foundation to People, Power & Democracy Project in 2015.
● $24,000 from Thornburg Foundation to People, Power & Democracy Project in 2016.
● $30,000 from Thornburg to People, Power & Democracy Project in 2017.
● $8000 from Peggy Hutchinson Scholarship Fund for News Port internships, 2014-2016.
● $500 from CJ chair fund for News Port special events.
● $500 from alumni and friends to the News Port Innovation Fund.
● $7500 from the proceeds of Hearst Award entries.
● $100,000 in 2019-2020 from the NM Local News Fund for a fellowship program placing
CJ graduates in local newsrooms (a portion of which directly funds News Port
operations)

In terms of usage metrics, the News Port website has attracted some 279,000 views since
inception. In May 2019, we had 8,000 pageviews, with users spending 1:32 per average
session. 80% were new sessions. About half arrived via mobile devices and about half were
based in New Mexico (followed by Texas, California, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona). For social
media metrics, see ​Our Innovation Work​ section.

Semester by semester surveys of students before and after News Port involvement show
upticks in perceived journalistic competence including interviewing, online research,
multimedia production and knowledge of AP style. These surveys also show increased
“perceived fit in a journalism career.”

Our Accolades
New Mexico News Port was born in the crucible of national competition,​ ​The Challenge Fund for
Innovation in Journalism Education​, sponsored by the Online News Association. News Port was
one of only 12 university projects funded in the 2014 competition (out of 125 applications).

In 2015, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, one of the funders of the ONA
Challenge Fund (along with Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund, McCormick Foundation and
Rita Allen Foundation), recognized News Port as worthy of continued funding with​ ​an award of
$50,000​, allowing for the hire of professional editor Kate Nash Cunningham.

At its 2015 convention, ONA named News Port​ ​a National Grand Prize Winner​, which came with
an award of $10,000, used to hire student interns to help manage the service. (​Hear and see
our Spring 2016 interns tell about it!)

Two years in a row, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) cited New Mexico News Port
as a finalist in its Mark of Excellence regional award contest. This for Best Online In-Depth
Reporting and Best Digital-Only Student Publication. In addition, in 2016, News Port won SPJ’s
first place award for best Online News Reporting.

The New Mexico Press Women’s association praised News Port in 2015 with first place awards
in Continuing Coverage, News Writing and Feature Writing; and with a second place award for
Educational Website; and a third place for Specialty Articles-Politics.

News Port has also been invited to present at five national conferences (ONA14, ONA15,
BEA15, AEJMC15, AEJMC16) to explain its model and the lessons learned.

Our student reporters and editors have gone on to work as interns and staff at news outlets in
Washington, DC, California, and New Mexico. After graduation our alumni have worked at the
Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe Reporter, the Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico PBS,
KNME, KOB TV, KOAT TV, KRQE TV, KUNM Radio and beyond.
News Port Editor Kate Nash (R) works with students on a “Creative New Mexico” feature.

Near Term Aspirations


In the next two years, our goal is to grow the News Port “newsroom” internship. In fall 2019,
we demonstrated the model, having two students in the newsroom. We also had a third
reporter on an independent study model. The students worked on a range of stories over the
course of the semester which published in between the classroom publishing intervals. Our goal
is to continue and grow the program to include more “newsroom” interns.

While we think our beat system is nearly complete, after focusing 2020 on the elections, we
imagine launching a new beat focused on health and healthcare.

Meanwhile, we would like to add another semester-long, paid position for someone who would
act as a digital editor. This person would be in charge of managing the site, posting stories to
social media, and incorporating multimedia content in new and exciting ways.

Conclusion
The New Mexico News Port went from idea to action in a matter of months, but the need for
the project existed for years and was made urgent in a 2013 consultant’s report critical of
journalism education at UNM. Since it's 2014 launch by “The Challenge Fund for Journalism
Education,” this innovation + collaboration + publication laboratory has helped some 350
students start a professional portfolio of news work. Many of these students are of Hispanic
and Native American heritage. News Port is regarded nationally as a “teaching hospital model”
of journalism education.
News Port is a concept with ambitious goals and significant potential. By channeling the talent
of some 30-40 students per semester, it can cover a wide swath of territory or issues — such as
criminal justice, education, issues made possible by a collaboration with national journalism
organizations (AAJA and IRE). By building connections to professional partners it can exchange
talent, content and digital experimentation for the mutual benefit of students and the larger
journalistic industry.

News Port’s early success can only be sustained and expanded with strong outside support. At a
time when UNM and the State of New Mexico are straining under a large budget deficit, it takes
creative and entrepreneurial thinking to foster necessary projects like the New Mexico News
Port.

Thank you
We want to take this opportunity on our fifth birthday to thank the other publications, the
funders who have believed in us, and the students and staff at the University of New Mexico for
contributing to our mission and allowing us to continue to provide our community with
innovative coverage focusing on underserved topics.

We hope to be around for another five years, and are excited to continue bringing unique news
to New Mexico.