Michael Marcotte, professor of practice with the Department of Communications and Journalism, recently received a fellowship with the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Only seventeen instructors are selected each year for this prestigious honor.
Marcotte, who began teaching at the University of New Mexico in 2014, received the fellowship for his innovative work with the New Mexico News Port, a journalism lab based off the “teaching hospital” format. This format focuses on students learning new skills by being put in professional scenarios.
“For students to learn journalism, they have to do journalism,” Marcotte said.
New Mexico News Port typically focuses on one subject for an entire semester, investing all of their resources into writing stories within the topic.
In past semesters, the themes have been Political New Mexico, Curious New Mexico and Creative New Mexico.
This semester the theme is Justice New Mexico, which focuses on crime-related topics from around the state. This choice comes as New Mexico has experienced a rise in crime. The News Port casts a wide net in terms of crime, covering issues from incarceration to the court system.
Unlike many news organizations, Marcotte said he does not define success for the News Port in terms of breaking large stories and garnering a large audience.
“Success, to me, is how many students we can get published...adding to (their) resume and published work,” he said.
Each person selected for the Tow-Knight Fellowship is expected to contribute a niche perspective concerning education in journalism. Marcotte’s selection came from an interest in applying the teaching hospital method to other programs around the country.
“I (talk) about operating an active publishing enterprise within the curriculum,” Marcotte said.
The primary struggle for the News Port since its inception in 2014 revolves around funding. There is a paid staff, along with equipment needed for the organization to function.
The News Port received $35,000 in the first year from the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education and $50,000 the second year from the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation. In their third year, however, the News Port received no funding.
“We can’t get money out of the school’s budget. There’s no discretionary spending to the News Port,” Marcotte said.
Despite these struggles, Marcotte expressed high hopes for the News Port going forward, especially with his recent selection as a fellow. The project’s Twitter page has recently seen an increase in followers due to their focus on crime-related issues.
“It takes a long time to establish a reputation. It’s about innovation, it’s about trying new things, it’s about giving students new opportunities,” he said.
The project’s work can be found at newmexiconewsport.com
Kyle Land is a news editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at news@dailylobo or on Twitter @Kyleoftheland.