We are thrilled to announce that Microsoft has become a major sponsor of our program to diversify Fresno-area newsrooms by training students of color in our community to become journalists. Microsoft joins the California Endowment and the James B. McClatchy Foundation as major supporters of this diversity effort.

We appreciate Microsoft’s commitment to our five-year training program, which takes high school seniors of color through their college careers with ongoing journalism training. Each student is paid $300 a month to participate in the program, and our goal is to get them jobs in the local news industry when they complete the training. Local editors and news directors have committed to hiring our graduates once they become trained journalists.

We believe that America’s newsrooms should reflect the diversity of the communities that they cover. Unfortunately, that’s generally not the case in most newsrooms. The Institute for Media and Public Trust at Fresno State is working with local partner organizations on this program. All are committed to increasing the diversity of local newsrooms.

The program’s first cohort started in September. Each year, we will add a new class of students, thereby building an ongoing pipeline of diverse multi-media journalists ready to take on news jobs in our region.

“This is an opportunity to ensure that the next generation of journalists are not only ready, with the requisite training and skill sets, but are coming into the profession with backgrounds and histories that are traditionally not as represented in newsrooms,” said Kathleen Schock, a journalism instructor at Fresno City College and host of Valley Edition on Valley Public Radio.

We are working with the journalism programs at Fresno City College and Fresno State, and we are partnering with The kNOw Youth Media. Since 2006 The kNOw has been helping young journalists with media training so they can tell stories about the communities they live in.

In October 2020, Microsoft announced local journalism pilot programs in Fresno; Yakima, Washington; El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico; and Jackson, Mississippi. It then added Northeast Wisconsin to the Microsoft journalism initiative. Our media institute at Fresno State is the higher education partner for the Fresno program. Through this collaborative, Microsoft was introduced to the students of color program.

The news collaborative that Microsoft is supporting will help local newsrooms overcome the business challenges that have led to many news sites closing in recent years.

“We’re working in partnership with local community foundations to support local newsrooms with the aim of helping them use the latest tools and technology to tell stories in new ways, experiment with new revenue streams and funding models, and work together with community organizations,” Microsoft said in a news release.

“We are bringing technical expertise to the pilot community newsrooms and partnering with other industry organizations and foundations to share expertise and experience that will further expand the reach and impact of the initiative.”