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A former reporter himself, Jim Iovino is now training the next generation of print reporters, editors and publishers as the Ogden Newspapers Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Innovation at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media.
Iovino leads the NewStart Newspaper Ownership Initiative, a program to recruit, train and support future community newspaper owners and publishers across the country.
Iovino joined WVU in 2019. He said his previous experience working at NBC and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he was part of the team that received the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Reporting, prepared him for the role as a professor.
“I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I would love to teach people journalism at a collegiate level,” Iovino said. “I love to coach people. I love to teach. I love to share my knowledge and watch people grow to help them develop their skills.”
Four years ago, former Reed College of Media Dean Maryanne Reed and Executive Director of the West Virginia Press Association Don Smith noticed an increase in small-town newspapers with no one prepared to take over the businesses. The NewStart initiative addresses this issue by training future leaders who will continue to publish news that holds the powerful accountable and maintains a strong community presence.
“We’ve seen over the past year or two, you need trusted sources of information and just relying on national news is not the best,” Iovino said. “These local newspapers have been around as a mainstay in the community and count for something. We want to make sure that the information and trusted source of that information continues regardless of the form.”
Iovino’s position is supported by the Ogden Newspapers, a company founded in Wheeling that now boasts 50 daily newspapers, several weeklies and a magazine division. Despite the changing media landscape, the mission of the Ogden Newspapers has remained the same since its inception – to inform people of the latest news while also sharing the stories of local communities and the people who live there.
Iovino is honored to have the opportunity to train and influence the next generation of newspaper reporters, publishers and owners, so they can carry on the Ogden Newspapers tradition of community journalism.
“Without donor support, programs like ours cannot get off the ground,” Iovino said.“With [WVU’s] land-grant mission, everything we do in our program goes back to the community, for the community, and propels it along, so the community wins.”