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WVU College of Media launches new graduate certificate for media entrepreneurs

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A new graduate certificate option at West Virginia University is the only program in the country where students develop specific skills and tools that prepare them to lead or launch a news outlet.

Housed in the Reed College of Media, the Media Solutions and Innovation (MESO) certificate will introduce prospective media owners to concepts and trends that have dramatically altered the media landscape in recent years. The six-month program is a spinoff of the existing year-long MESO master’s degree.

Jim Iovino

“We want to give folks another way to experience the MESO program, especially if they already have a master’s degree, obtaining a master’s isn’t their primary goal, or an existing news organization wants an employee to level up on new industry methods or standards,” said Jim Iovino, the Ogden Newspapers Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Innovation and director of the NewStart program.

“We’ve experienced an intense media consolidation and now there’s a trend for media conglomerates to close or sell off local media outlets at a loss,” Iovino added. “The purpose of this program is to train potential buyers on how to revitalize a local media outlet to be sustainable and successful in small- to medium-sized markets.”

The MESO certificate, like the master’s degree, is offered exclusively online with no on-campus classroom attendance required. The four courses include Audience Development, Community Journalism, News Analytics and a choice between News Product Development and Media Leadership. The program also includes virtual workshops and panel discussions with industry leaders.

in partnership with the West Virginia Press Association, the Reed College of Media launched NewStart in 2019 to recruit, train and support the next generation of newspaper owners and publishers. Since then, Iovino has established an extensive nationwide community of media entrepreneurs who share best practices and work together to create a sustainable model for local journalism. Students in the new certificate program will have the opportunity to collaborate with these industry partners for discovery, research and development of targeted solutions to address some of the most challenging media problems.

In addition, the program aims to prepare entrepreneurs to start new publications in “news deserts,” areas of the country that are no longer served by any traditional media outlets.

“The public is in need of reliable information, which so often comes from local media outlets,” said Diana Martinelli, dean of the WVU Reed College of Media. “It’s our job to give journalists and media owners the tools they need to adapt to the changing industry, so they can continue to provide this vital service.”

A bachelor’s degree is required to pursue the MESO certificate. Coursework is asynchronous and flexible to allow participants to simultaneously maintain full-time employment. For more information on the certificate and master’s degree, visit mediacollege.wvu.edu/meso.

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