About the Center
The Center is a unique community media collaborative combining Mercer’s liberal arts-based journalism and media studies program with the professional expertise of The Telegraph, Georgia’s third-largest daily newspaper, and Georgia Public Broadcasting, the third-largest public broadcaster in the country based on population reach, and 13WMAZ, the most-watched television station in central Georgia.
The Center was launched in 2011 with nearly $6 million in grants from the John S. and James L. Knight and Peyton Anderson foundations. In 2017, the Center received an additional $2 million grant from the Knight Foundation to expand opportunities for students and broaden its engagement efforts with the community. The Collaborative seeks to transform a city that has remarkable inherent advantages in geography, higher education and culture, but weakness in attachment, openness, economic strength, and overall sense of community. This Collaborative combines:
- The reach and award-winning journalists of The Telegraph, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and 13WMAZ.
- The journalistic innovation resulting from Mercer’s undergraduate journalism program taught by faculty with strong practical journalism experience who employ a curriculum featuring a medical school-like clinical component;
- The energy and ambitions of many student journalists attracted by the career advantages this program offers them; and
- A mission of steady engagement with the issues and how to resolve them. In the past years, the collaboration has produced award-winning projects focused on the people of Macon, blight, pedestrian safety and the resegregation of public schools.
Mercer and its partners have created one of largest journalism/community projects in the country and a model for higher education/media collaborations in other cities.
The University brings to the Center a long and proud history of preparing journalists that dates back to the early 20th century. In 1920 Mercer established a School of Journalism that was recognized as an “A”-grade school by the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication. Its first dean was an editor at The Macon Telegraph, and around 14 courses were offered to student journalists, who augmented their coursework by working for The Macon Telegraph and the weekly University newspaper, The Orange and Black. While the school dissolved some years later, the University continues to offer journalism coursework through its Journalism and Media Students Department in the College of Liberal Arts.
While never a large department, Mercer’s journalism program has turned out a number of distinguished journalists through the years, including:
- Harry Stillwell Edwards, AB 1877, who authored 19 books and was editor of The Macon Telegraph. His most celebrated book, Eneas Africanus, is one of the great classics of Southern literature.
- George P. Oslin, AB ’20, who during the Great Depression invented the “singing telegram” as a publicity stunt for Western Union, where he served as public relations director for 35 years.
- Jack Tarver, AB ’38, who climbed the journalism ranks of Georgia, from his start as editor of the Vidalia Advance to publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and chairman of the Associated Press.
- John Hogan, AB ’40, who was an early leader in broadcast journalism and founding president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association.
- John Couric, AB ’41, reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and United Press International who went on to serve as chief writer for the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters. He was the father of broadcast journalist Katie Couric.
- Charles Kopp, AB ’42, MA ’48, who taught journalism at Mercer, Georgia Southern College, the University of Maryland and the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism. He wrote The Law and the Press, a long-popular journalism textbook.
- J. Reg Murphy, ’54, whose career included service as president of the National Geographic Society, publisher of The Baltimore Sun, editor and publisher of The San Francisco Examiner and reporter and later editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Two Pulitzer Prize winners: J. Buford Boone, AB ’29, who won in 1957 for his editorials against segregation in the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News; and Malcolm Johnson, AB ’26, who won in 1949 for local reporting in the series “Crime on the Waterfront” in The New York Sun. Johnson’s reports became the basis for the film On the Waterfront, which starred Marlon Brando.
In a sense, the Center for Collaborative Journalism is returning Mercer to its roots, while fully embracing the need to employ and develop new digital platforms that advance storytelling and serve the community’s information needs.
Georgia Public Broadcasting
As part of this initiative, and with support from Knight Foundation, GPB is expanding local programming at WMUM-FM — GPB Radio Macon — to a level not available in any other Georgia city outside Atlanta. GPB Radio Macon provides a place for new voices in the community to be heard, for the public to engage in meaningful conversation, and for celebrating what is great about the community — its arts and culture, sports, achievements, and people. At the same time, with its studios located in Mercer Village adjacent to the Center for Collaborative Journalism, GPB Radio Macon helps prepare the next generation of journalists who are equipped for the digital age.
Recently celebrating its 50th anniversary as a long-trusted citizen, GPB is Georgia’s most accessible cultural and educational institution. It is one of only 13 statewide networks encompassing digital radio, digital television, and electronically delivered education. In the last 10 years, GPB has experienced significant growth in its broadcast, education and new media capabilities. Most recently, GPB was selected by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to lead a consortium of Southern public broadcasters in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee to create the Southern Education Desk, a CPB Local Journalism Center.
The Telegraph brings significant journalistic resources to the Center for Collaborative Journalism. Established in 1826, The Telegraph is Georgia’s third-largest daily newspaper by circulation. In 2006 it was acquired from Knight-Ridder by The McClatchy Company, the third-largest newspaper firm in the United States. McClatchy is a leading newspaper and internet publisher dedicated to the values of quality journalism, free expression and community service.
13WMAZ made history on Sept. 27, 1953, when the station signed on as the area’s first VHF television station. In 1953, Central Georgians were already very familiar with WMAZ. The call letters date back to 1922 and the first broadcast for WMAZ radio. The radio station began as a physics class project at Mercer University, and the call letters they chose stood for “Watch Mercer Attain Zenith.” From the beginning, viewers made 13WMAZ their favorite television source for news and entertainment. Today, 13WMAZ remains the most-watched television station in Central Georgia. 13WMAZ, a station owned by TEGNA Inc., has been affiliated with the CBS Television Network since the station signed on 60 years ago. In 2013, the station added The CW Network on digital channel WMAZ-13.2. 13WMAZ’s passion for the community comes “Straight from the Heart.” Visit 13WMAZ’s website.