The program offers a Master's degree in community journalism. What's unique is that grad students divide their time between classroom study on campus and journalism work in the Star's newsroom.
It is the realization of remarks made in 2002 by Star publisher H. Brandt Ayers in which he sought the creation of a partnership that would "keep our newspapers from becoming just an undistinguished link in a long corporate chain" while advancing "the art of community journalism."
As Lauren Klinger writes for Poynter:
What’s happening in journalism education sounds eerily like what’s happened to the newspaper industry over the last decade-and-a-half: While the talk in academia is of adjuncts and buyouts instead of freelancers and layoffs, professors are hearing more and more that commentators predict serious trouble for the journalism degree.
Meanwhile, every year for the last seven years, a small paper in Anniston, Ala., has been able to afford to devote six to eight reporters to yearlong, multimedia enterprise stories. And the University of Alabama boasts a job-placement rate above 90 percent for its community-journalism students.
Click here to see the award-winning project from the class of 2011-2012 - AIR WAR: Political ads in Alabama.
The 2012-2013 class tackled books challenged in public school libraries - Shelved: Who decides which books are available in the state’s school libraries?