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Kentucky newspapers launch partnership with public radio

A partnership among Kentucky's newspapers is extending in part to the state's public radio stations.

More than two years ago, many newspapers across Kentucky began sharing stories written by their reporters through the Kentucky Press Association News Content Service. Now the KPA's leadership has started a pilot program that allows some of that content to be shared with Kentucky's public radio stations as long as it is credited to the individual newspaper.

The ultimate goal, though, is to find a new revenue stream for the long-struggling newspaper industry.

"My philosophy is simple: Radio stations in the past and future will probably continue to borrow content from newspapers," said David Greer, director of the KPA News Content Service. "Why not set up a system where they will pay us for it?

"Newspapers spend a lot of money to staff and organize news departments. It's only fair that folks who borrow our content help defray some of those expenses."

However, the pilot project, which is to end in October, doesn't have a revenue component.

"We're starting off modestly with public radio stations," Greer said. "I think it will be expanded after that, but as to where we go, we're still talking about that."

So far, two of the state's seven public radio stations — WEKU-88.9 FM at Eastern Kentucky University and WNKU-89.7 FM at Northern Kentucky University — have joined the pilot program.

"It's a way for us to extend the really great work that journalists are already doing around the state," said Roger Duvall, station manager at WEKU.

Greer said WEKU was instrumental in persuading the KPA leadership to begin the pilot program.

"We know there's interest" among the other five public radio stations, Greer said.

So far, 23 of the roughly 60 newspapers contributing content to the KPA News Content Service have agreed to allow public radio stations to use their work, Greer said.

Among those newspapers is the Herald-Leader.

"The Herald-Leader has always had a good relationship with local public radio stations, so we're happy to participate in the pilot," Editor Peter Baniak said. "In many ways, their core audience is a good fit with ours.

"It's worth noting that many broadcasters in the state — radio and TV — already use newspaper content on the air, though their viewers may not always know that. Under this model, it will be clear to listeners that the stories they're hearing were first reported by a newspaper."

Duvall also emphasized that it will help create more outlets for content.

"With the environment we've got now, everything is on demand," he said. "We're finding that if you're committed to good, solid journalism, we just need to find a way to get it out there on as many platforms as possible."

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