Scholarship program changes to keep print journalists

It should have been a feel-good moment.

A video was played during the 2017 Colorado Press Association annual convention, highlighting students who had received scholarships through the CPA’s journalism fund.

A moment meant to embrace the future was replaced by feelings of dismay for several.

“The reason I'm giving the journalism foundation such low marks is because it was evident at CPA this year that the recipients of these scholarships are not pursuing careers in journalism,” one person wrote in a CPA member survey. “I do not support giving journalism scholarships to those entering the PR and marketing fields.”

It was a comment echoed several times. And it’s an issue that has been addressed.

The CPA board of directors, upon the recommendation of the journalism foundation committee, approved changes to the scholarships program, which is managed by the Denver Foundation. The changes ensure scholarship recipients pursue a career in print or word-based online journalism.

The foundation has historically provided four-to-nine scholarships annually to qualified high school and college students. Since 2011, that’s equaled $82,500 in scholarships.

Previously, scholarship requirements were broad, allowing students who were part of college’s journalism program to apply. However, in several of those programs, public relations are part of it, and scholarship winners had no plans to use their degree in the news media field.

The new criteria specify that students must “have declared and will be majoring in journalism with a focus on and intent to pursue a print or online career,” and “plan to use their major to work in the print and online journalism industry in Colorado after college graduation.”

“We, as an industry, have been really good at investing in the new technologies we need as the business evolves,” said Matt Lubich, CPA president. “I see investing in the journalism foundation as investing in the people that are going to use those technologies. The board feels that as the newspaper business evolves, one of the most important things we do is to support the next generation because they are the ones who will figure out the big questions we are facing.”

Along with annual scholarships, the CPA journalism foundation also provides training and growth opportunities for working journalism professionals. The foundation’s scholarships and continuing education are provided by contributions from CPA member newspapers and individuals. During the past decade, donations to the foundation have been significantly down, making it more difficult to fund scholarships and trainings.

“The reality is we have given out way more foundation funds then we’ve brought in, and we need to be successful in fundraising or, at some point, we will have to consider the viability of the foundation programs,” said CPA CEO Jerry Raehal.

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Support the foundation

You can support the future of Colorado print journalism by making a tax-deductible donation to the journalism foundation. Every dollar you donate goes to fund scholarships for Colorado students and professional development for Colorado’s journalists.

Make checks payable to The Denver Foundation with the "Colorado Press Association Fund" in the memo line. You can also donate online at http://bit.ly/CPAJournalismFoundation.

CPA member publications may support the journalism foundation through the Ad to Our Future campaign. By participating, CPA media members agree to donate the equivalent of either a quarter-page, half-page or full page black-and-white ad in their publication sold by SYNC2 Media. SYNC2 transfers the money to the journalism foundation, which is hosted by the Denver Foundation, in that publication’s name. To participate in the Ad to Our Future campaign, visit http://conta.cc/2xeSqKM.

Donations to the journalism foundation are tax-deductible.

“We as an industry need to invest in ourselves and invest in our next generation,” said Lubich, who along with co-owning the Johnstown Breeze also is the general manager of the University of Northern Colorado’s student paper, The Mirror. “Doesn’t have to be a lot of money. If each of us makes a small contribution, that will have a big effect. I know times are tight and everyone is counting their pennies, but to me, this is money well invested.”


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This article was originally published in CPA's quarterly magazine PressNext. Click here to subscribe and have your print copy delivered.