By Lee Burnett – Submissions editor
A student journalist from The University of New England has joined the team at Sanford Springvale News, thanks to a partnership with the university.
Alexa Livingston is a junior environmental studies major and a writer for The Bolt, UNE’s student newspaper. She says she’s always enjoyed writing – whether creative or technical – and sees journalism as a good way to pursue her interests in environmental sustainability and civic involvement.
“Local news is really important … it can really transcend diversity,” she said. “News, as I see it, doesn’t have a political agenda … It connects people to their community.”
Livingston sees a lot of similarities between southern Maine and her hometown of Cobleskill, N.Y., west of Albany, although she has noticed an absence of Stewart’s Shops, a ubiquitous New York convenience store chain.
Livingston will write occasional stories for the Sanford Springvale News during the school year. She’s one of three students who will be working for local news outlets under UNE’s Community News Fellows program. The other two outlets are Saco Bay News and the Portland Press Herald. The program is part of a nationwide initiative in academia aimed at countering the dramatic loss of local news outlets across the country. It was felt locally with the merger of The Sanford News with a sister publication in 2017 and the closure of The Journal Tribune in 2019. Altogether, more than 2,100 newspapers have closed since 2004, according to UNE. UNE is one of 33 colleges and universities participating in an initiative spearheaded by The Center for Community News at the University of Vermont and sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Sanford Springvale News is looking forward to working with Livingston and learning from other news outlets exploring new models of journalism.