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Green Bay Packers Give Back, Nicolet Bank, Press Times partner for local journalism’s future

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By Kris Leonhardt

Acting Editor

GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers Give Back, Nicolet National Bank, and the Green Bay Press TImes are partnering on a program to support local educational institutions in training the next generation of journalists and fostering the community news environment. This initiative addresses the alarming need for quality reporters of local news.

According to “Report for America,” a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms, “The number of reporters in the country has declined 60 percent since 2000, a job loss similar in scale to the coal industry.” 

“Despite declining employment, about 4,900 openings for news analysts, reporters, and journalists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire,” the report stated.

The Packers said that community support has been a key to their success throughout history and it was a natural for Packers Give Back to support the initiative.

“The Packers are committed to our community that has supported us for more than 100 years,” said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. “This program will nurture the next generation of journalists. High-quality journalism is crucial to a well-informed community that contributes to its collective success and enriched quality of life.”

Nicolet National Bank President and CEO Mike Daniels said that the goals of the program fit right into their company’s focus.

“Since Nicolet’s founding twenty-two years ago, we have always focused on local – local people meeting local needs with local resources. Pat Wood’s idea of teaching the next generation about journalism is vital to meeting the needs of our communities. I have repeatedly seen the tremendous value that a great reporter and newspaper can bring to a community,” Daniels said. 

“We are honored to further our partnership with the Press Times and to start new and exciting partnerships with Packers Give Back by supporting the Pass It Forward program.” 

This spring, six student interns from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) and three St. Norbert College (SNC) interns will receive real-world experience in the newsroom at the Green Bay Press Times, through copy editing and the creation of editorial content with a focus on the community. Interns will also complete the “Earn Your Press Pass” course in association with the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Networking and real-world experience will provide a funnel for qualified young reporters to enter community journalism.

As a former journalist, St. Norbert College Interim President Tom Kunkel said that he was “especially delighted” to be involved in the program. 

“This program will provide opportunities for many St. Norbert students to learn the rudiments of journalism and hone their writing and communicating at a high level. Some of these students might eventually even go into media for their careers. But regardless, these lucky students will be learning the kind of fact-finding skills and sharpening the kinds of interpersonal and communication skills that all employers value today,” Kunkel stated.

“We say it all the time – colleges such as St. Norbert literally cannot do our jobs without the help of our friends and outside supporters. They create valuable opportunities for our students, underwrite much of their tuition, provide internships, and do so much to help shape their future lives and careers. We are tremendously grateful to the Press Times, Nicolet Bank and Packers Give Back for doing it again.”

UW-Green Bay College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Dean Chuck Rybak expressed the need for graduates with media-based skills, such as expertise in writing, web, video, and audio production, in what he referred to as “the age of content.”

“It is no secret that state support for public universities has decreased significantly over the last few decades, for a variety of reasons. Any additional funding we receive is vital because we are able to direct it to the area that matters most—student success. If we can provide paid internships to students while simultaneously creating high-impact, hands-on work experiences, our students and our region’s employers share equally in the benefit,” Rybak explained.

“Contemporary media and its business model is an area of great change and instability. As a university, our job is to anticipate such changes and prepare students not for what media is today, but what it will be tomorrow. We must also deliver this education in a way that prepares students to adapt to the continual change that they will face post-graduation.”

MMC/Press Times Publisher and CEO Patrick Wood explained that the vision for the program arose from working to “enhance hyper-local news in communities that are vibrant and need to stay vibrant.”

“Partnering with UWGB and St. Norbert College to enrich the learning of their budding journalism and communications students seemed like an obvious path to enriching the next generation of reporters. Packers Give Back and Nicolet National Bank responded positively, knowing that a program that supports local schools reporting local news is a win for everyone in the community,” Wood said.

“The students are paid for their work while they learn with editors and writers at the Press Times. Real-world ‘Earn Your Press Pass’ seminars from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association are a foundational element of the program. Hopefully, this pilot program is successful and upon completion can be expanded to other Wisconsin communities.”

“The name of the program, ‘Pass It Forward,’ builds on the well-known slogan ‘pay it forward’ and fits with the giving tradition long supported by Packers Give Back and Nicolet Bank.”

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