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Michael V Marcotte
Albuquerque, NM
Veteran public media news executive now teaching and consulting
Interests: Reading, networking and swimming. Discovering great journalism on all platforms. Enjoying music, theater and outdoor stuff like biking and hiking. A fan of yoga. I'm the proud owner of one of the first all-electric Mustangs in New Mexico and for some reason I'm certified in transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Recent Activity
The countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve was more than a welcome to 2024. For me, it was the lead-up to the moment I'd officially retire from the University of New Mexico. 3, 2, 1... Happy New Life! To Do List Done I'll turn 68 in 2024. Ten of those years were serving as a Professor of Practice in the UNM Communication and Journalism Department. I'll always be glad for the trust and support of the faculty and students at UNM. Back in 2013, I was brought in to advance our teaching by giving students more real-world journalism experience. It worked out pretty well. I consider my biggest hightlights to be my creation of the student-powered news site, New Mexico News Port. That, and the creation of The New Mexico Local News Fellowships and Internships Program. We’ve not only given those students hands-on, multimedia publishing opportunities -- often their... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2024 at Michael V. Marcotte
September in Albuquerque was notable not just for its above-average temperatures, but also for its above average concentration on local news. New Mexico has a very healthy -- that is, collabortive and supportive -- journalistic ecosystem. Of course, it would be healthier if it could adequately cover the vast needs of a vast state. But we're working on it. That work was in evidence on two Saturdays in September in which we (others mostly, but I helped) put on two day-long conferences to advance the mission and the future prospects of local-level coverage in our state. The bigger of the two events was the 2023 New Mexico Local News Summit, Sept 30, sponsored by the NM Local News Fund. Above: Discussing the role of philanthropy in local news. Here's a recap provided by my UNM Intermediate Reporting class: I also liked this personalized recap by a former student of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2023 at Michael V. Marcotte
UNM's Savannah Peat wrote up a story about one of my primary projects at UNM, the NM Local News Fellowships & Internships. Enjoy! ***** The New Mexico Local News Fellowship and Internship Program has just launched its fifth cycle with a record seven fellows and eight interns who will work in newsrooms around the state. That is double the normal number of young journalists. The growth comes after the state Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved a $125,000 appropriation to the Department of Workforce Solutions to expand the job-training program, a project of the New Mexico Local News Fund and the University of New Mexico Department of Communication & Journalism (C&J.) "This investment from the state is a bold statement of support for local news — and for our program, which has become a model for others in the country," Rashad Mahmood, executive director of the New Mexico... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2023 at Michael V. Marcotte
Recently, my colleagues and I went up to Santa Fe and successfully made the case for some government money to help us expand our local news fellowship program -- a five-year partnership between our state college and a private foundation to place graduates in newsrooms to give them a head-start in local journalism (while bolstering established newsrooms who are struggling with the changing times). The money was very helpful and much appreciated, but if we are to go way further in helping local communities rebuild or remake their local media system with public dollars, then we're going to have to confront the complications of well-thought-out policies. In that spirit then, I share and recommend this piece. By Damian Radcliffe and Nick Mathews in Columbia Journalism Review. It's a detailed spin down of expert perspectives. The piece doesn't boil down to specific recommendations, but it illuminates the craggy landscape on which... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2023 at Michael V. Marcotte
An important discussion that resonates strongly with me: Key message: A recent study finds that shoring up NPR member stations with more philanthropic funding could increase community reporting capacity. The study: By Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. Released in January, titled “News Crisis: Can Local Public Radio Help Fill the News Gap Created by the Decline of Local Newspapers?” Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2023 at Michael V. Marcotte
Sate-level experiments to fund community-based outlets are expanding. by CATHERINE BUNI SUMMARY POINT: Amidst an existential crisis in local journalism and the failure of the federal government to pass legislation, state-level experiments designed to support local journalism as a crucial public service are expanding, from New Jersey to California, New Mexico to Wisconsin, Illinois to Washington, and beyond. COMMENT: The piece above by Buni is a welcome snapshot of where our efforts stand in trying to beat the drum for public dollars so we can advance public service journalism -- which is at risk, as everyone who is following anything important knows. I'm especially pleased Buni pops out an entire section on New Mexico, spotlighting the program I'm heading up. It's a fellowship/internship program, funded by the NM Local News Fund, which (hopefully) could find itself benefiting from state dollars if we are successful in our lobbying efforts this... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2023 at Michael V. Marcotte
Here's the executive summary of a new report titled, "News Crisis: Can Local Public Radio Help Fill the News Gap Created by the Decline in Local Newspapers?" It is authored by Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Of course, I say, the answer is YES! But it's more nuanced than that. Note the need for stations to focus and invest on this role at a much increased scale. Also the local market may have a lot to do with the future potential for success and sustainability. But the fact we are finally asking this question on a national scale by exceptional experts is a big step in the right direction. -- MM The study can be downloaded here (pdf). Executive Summary America’s local newspapers are in steep decline, creating a deficit in local news. In affected communities, civic life... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2023 at Michael V. Marcotte
From NiemanLab and author/consultant/publisher Ken Doctor I just want to commend the above article written by a smart guy who spent years describing the collapse (or creative destruction) of the news industry, only then to take on a news industry venture of his own. Ken Doctor has spent two years building a digital commercial news service in Santa Cruz, California... and just may see profitability in 2023. Take a read and note the 11 takeaways... including "be patient -- and aggressive," "bring students directly into local news," and "planning is great, but it's a lot of improv." Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2022 at Michael V. Marcotte
People who know me know I'm rather obsessed with the survival and health of local news. Granted, my focus is predominantly on public media as a solution to the local news crisis, but I'll take any glimmer of hope on the local newscape, be it non-profit, for-profit, small-scale or legacy-based. In this case, I want to cheer on Source New Mexico for surviving, or, more accurately, thriving its first full year of existence. Here's a repost of the column by lead founder and top editor Marisa DeMarco. Congrats to Marisa, her team, and her parent org States News Service. P.S. Megan Gleason, referred to as one of the new reporters, was placed at Source NM under the Local News Fellowship program that I founded in partnership with UNM and the NM Local News Fund. COMMENTARY Year one of Source New Mexico The capacity for surprise, responsibility to community, radical imagination... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2022 at Michael V. Marcotte
Highly recommended -- this newsletter post by Ernesto Aguilar, based at KQED in San Francisco. Inspired, in part, by the conversations he's having this week at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference, held in conjunction with the National Association of Black Journalists, in Las Vegas. There's a large public media contingent this year (returning to IRL after virtual meetings for two years). Trust is everything in journalism and we are sucking at it. Well, a little less so in public media, but still we have our challenges. But, as Ernesto points out, we are working on it and getting good guidance, provided we are open to finding it. -- MVM *** Our future depends on belonging and trust. Our future depends on belonging and trust Public media challenges with Latina/o/e/x engagement lie in showing up Ernesto Aguilar Aug 5 At this writing, I am attending the joint convention of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2022 at Michael V. Marcotte
This piece makes the case for what we've been attempting to do at UNM with our student-driven news service, New Mexico News Port. The full article is here: ************ How college students can help save local news Local news outlets across the U.S. are struggling to bring in advertising and subscription revenue, which pays for the reporting, editing and production of their articles. It’s not a new problem, but with fewer and fewer journalism jobs as a result, a growing number of local newsrooms have found a potential solution: college journalism students. The pandemic, set on a backdrop of political and economic tumult, further injured a local news industry weakened by decades of revenue decline, ownership consolidation and cuts to production and delivery. In rural and urban communities across the country, residents have little or no access to credible or comprehensive local news and information – they live in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2022 at Michael V. Marcotte
Our local-news situation is even worse than we think - Columbia Journalism Review. This is the first of a two-part series; for part two, click here. IN MEASURING THE COLLAPSE OF LOCAL NEWS, there is arguably no more important metric than the number of local reporters. Though precise numbers are hard to come by, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an astounding 57 percent decline in newspaper newsroom employees—from 71,640 to 30,820—since 2004. Depressingly, academic studies show that the local news collapse has likely led to lower voter turnout and bond ratings, and more corruption, waste, air pollution, and corporate crime. It is a truly bleak picture. And yet focusing exclusively on that employment statistic understates the problem, as becomes clear when we look at the decline in the context of four other factors: spending by state and local governments, population growth, the trajectory of other professions, and the rise... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2022 at Michael V. Marcotte
Report for America (like Teach for America, but for journalists) has put together a report touting the benefits of setting up local news funds via local community foundations. See their report here (pdf). The video cuts to the chase. Report for America spotlights important new trend – creation of ‘Community News Funds’ from GroundTruth on Vimeo. Notable quote: We strongly recommend that all community foundations consider the creation of a Community News Fund to catalyze local news support. Foundations and their leaders are beacons in communities who are relied upon to identify the community’s most important needs and strategies to address them. To be successful, Community News Funds should: • Encompass multiple funders of varied giving levels • Pursue multi-year contributions with a fund goal of 6- and 7-figures depending on the community size • Demonstrate and articulate that the community (not merely the newsroom) is the beneficiary of improved... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2022 at Michael V. Marcotte
In 2016, I was hired by the good people at The Democracy Fund to do some ground level research on the state of the local news ecosystem in my adopted state. New Mexico was one of only five locations being examined at the time and this certainly looked to be a precious opportunity to explore unique challenges in our large, rural and rather impoverished state. One of the best moves I made was to subcontract with Sarah Gustavus (along with Gwyneth Doland, Megan Kamerick and Carolyn Flynn) to fan out and canvass local newsrooms and help deliver a a detailed (and troubling) report, "The Precarious Local News Ecosystem of New Mexico." It was great to see one thing lead to another and Sarah's eventual establishment of the New Mexico Local News Fund. It was jump started by the Democracy Fund with added backing from the Thornburg Foundation. And now, sadly... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2021 at Michael V. Marcotte
(Sharing this press release from my friends and benefactors at the NM Local News Fund. This marks another advance in our local news ecosystem survival strategy, of which I'm part. If you care about local news, especially in a state like New Mexico, please consider acting on this opportunity! -- MM) RELEASE DATE: Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021 CONTACT: Rashad Mahmood, New Mexico Local News Fund co-director: [email protected] (443-486-2406) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The first-ever statewide giving initiative to encourage support for local journalism in New Mexico will launch Nov. 30 -- this year's Giving Tuesday. Spearheaded by the New Mexico Local News Fund (a fiscally sponsored project of the Santa Fe Community Foundation), the Local News Matching Campaign will support local news organizations around the state by boosting support from the communities they serve. How does it work? The Local News Fund will match every dollar raised (up to $3,000 per... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2021 at Michael V. Marcotte
"If there is one American institution perfectly poised to help fill the local news vacuum in ways that support democracy, it is public media. With a vast network of local licensees spread across urban and small-town America, public media stations should serve local audiences and provide a window on issues and conflicts in democratic governance that are bubbling up across the country. Indeed, to an increasing extent the many successful news-format public radio stations across the country — from Dallas to Boston, Los Angeles to New York — have become the new American newsrooms. As good as they are, none of these newsrooms operate on the same scale as local newspapers once did. Public media can do more to connect the dots between what’s happening locally and what that means for the nation as a whole. Enterprising local reports from newsrooms across the country are simply not reflected enough in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2021 at Michael V. Marcotte
I want to thank the faculty and staff at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for inviting my students and me into their international reporting bootcamp this year. Normally, this would be an in-person experience at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., but the intensive training had to be held virtually over Zoom and Slack instead. The result was this excellent multimedia report on the devastation wrought by hurricanes Eta and Iota in the Northern Triangle of Central America. The powerful double-whammy last November, largely missed by those of us consumed by the fraught 2020 election, was a major driver of migration from the region into the United States. Of course, there are other factors causing people to flee, corruption and violence being the most insidious. The training project is very well designed and expertly led by the Ideas Team at CSIS, drawing upon the vast expertise of their faculty... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2021 at Michael V. Marcotte
Can public media help fix market failures in local news? That was our question 18 months ago when we launched the Public Media Mergers Project. Supported by a partnership between the Public Media Venture Group and the Google News Initiative, and housed at the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy, the initiative explored a rising trend in mergers between traditional public broadcasters and local digital newsrooms across the country. Our answer: Public media can absolutely help fix market failures in local news, but it will take a simultaneous process of building on its traditional values and dismantling the legacy structures of the current system to create a new local journalism service worthy of “the public” in public media. Read this story on Medium: Also recommended, a review of this piece on Nieman Lab: Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2021 at Michael V. Marcotte
This new investigative unit will work with the regional newsrooms and topic teams to support local journalism Cheryl W. Thompson will lead the Station Investigations Team. Wanyu Zhang/NPR There are over 1000 NPR Member Station signals broadcasting across the United States NPR Washington D.C., Feb 3., 2021 -- NPR announced today the creation of the Station Investigations Team. The team, led by Cheryl W. Thompson, an award-winning investigative reporter and 22-year veteran of The Washington Post who joined NPR in 2019, will work with stations to report ambitious investigative projects. The team, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will include a producer and a data editor who will advise reporters who'd like technical help with skills such as data collection and analysis and freedom of information requests. The team will also help facilitate stations' opportunities to localize NPR investigations through webinars and open-source data. "On any given day there... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2021 at Michael V. Marcotte
I've been on this kick for a long time... but it is heartening to see some serious advances in the direction of local journalism. It's just unfortunate it has taken an economic crisis in journalism to accelerate the shift we're seeing. Here are two important readings on the topic. Jan Schaffer, writing as the Ombudsman for CPB, observing two initiatives on behalf of local news could test public media's preparedness. Are We Poised for Another 1967 Moment? And this think piece from former CPB board member Howard Husock who makes a strong case of taxpayer support of public media -- provided it steps up to deliver local journalism in a committed way. The 'Local That Works' and What's Still Needed. Both pieces would have CPB adjust its vision for public service journalism in America -- and that could mean additional reforms to how it operates. Considering we're over 50 years... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2020 at Michael V. Marcotte
Nick Quah has been rocking the podcast news (news about podcasts) space for some time and has news now of another interesting experiment by NPR and member stations: packaging an afternoon news pod bundling national and regional coverage. It's another step in the on-demand world of what was once known as radio! Excerpt below or read the full post here:The Bundle – Hot Pod News. Nick QuahTHE BUNDLELast week, NPR announced that it will start bundling local news content with Consider This, its relatively new afternoon daily news podcast. This sounds like a small and wonky thing, but it’s really a huge step forward towards whatever public radio is supposed to become as the position of traditional broadcast radio continues to be chipped away from digital and on-demand. This effort is starting off in a limited fashion. In this introductory phase, a pilot group of twelve public radio stations across... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2020 at Michael V. Marcotte
Merging into the Future Aug 14, 2020 By: Jan Schaffer Coming very soon: A long-awaited playbook for those public media stations interested in acquiring or merging with a local digital news site in their region. For interested pubcasters, these pairings can jumpstart not only their local news chops but also their digital know-how and spark a new product mindset. For local news sites bootstrapping journalism in geographic news deserts, linking up with a public broadcaster can give their digital content a much-needed megaphone and put them on a firmer footpath to sustainability ­– not to mention giving them a secure repository for their archives. “This is a promising model,” said Elizabeth Hansen, lead researcher for the Public Media Mergers Project, noting that under the right conditions (to be outlined in her report) public broadcasters “will thrive.” Already, nine public media stations have acquired or merged with a local digital news... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2020 at Michael V. Marcotte
I've been an editor for years and can, retroactively, more clearly see the white-blindness in myself and my workplaces. This piece is eloquent, nuanced and truthful. It will be required reading in my journalism classes. Thank you @WesleyLowery -- MM It was a brief interaction, during the first weeks of my career. There had been a stabbing, and I’d been dispatched to a block in Roxbury, a predominantly black section of Boston, to snag quotes from anyone who might know anything about what had happened. “Who are you with?” inquired the first person I had approached, a black man in his 50s. “The Globe?” he exclaimed after hearing my response. “The Globe doesn’t have black reporters. What are you doing over here? You lost? Y’all don’t write about this part of town.” His complaints and his skepticism were familiar, voiced for decades by black people both outside newsrooms and within... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2020 at Michael V. Marcotte
BY TERESA GORMAN / 2020 APRIL 15TH This post was co-authored by Christine Schmidt. Over the past month, 30 states have made journalism an essential service in their disaster declarations, putting local news outlets on par with hospitals and grocery stores. It makes sense: local news is how we find out about stay at home orders and whether our nearby hospital has tests available. It lets us know which grocery stores are holding senior hours, which schools are delivering hot lunches, and how to get help with rent and mortgage payments. And it powers the work of infectious disease detectives, who refer to local reporting as “the bedrock” of their work tracking the spread of illnesses across the country. Nearly eight in ten Americans are following coronavirus news closely. And they’re getting more than just news: Chalkbeat built maps of all the places New Jersey families can get free meals... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Michael V. Marcotte
Never before has there been such a collective cry for the federal government to fund journalism ­­­­– especially local newsgathering – an idea that reporters and editors once considered toxic. These calls have come over the last two weeks from respected industry leaders seeking to staunch the current carnage in commercial and nonprofit newsrooms. Ideas that once were regarded as controversial are now treated as possibilities to be pondered – and actively pitched. Indeed, just Wednesday, more than 50 journalism organizations and journalism schools sent Congress a letter pleading for $5 billion in relief in the next emergency legislation, saying the pandemic has “accelerated the decline of local news and information.” If these pleas gain traction, public broadcasters will have newfound competition for taxpayer dollars, even as digital news providers are already homing in on pubcasters’ donors, members and funders. Some of the proposals call for markedly redefining public media... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2020 at Michael V. Marcotte