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90.3 WBHM Birmingham--WBHM-FM is partnering with public broadcasting outlets across the South to create the Southern Education Desk, which will focus its reporting on the educational challenges facing the South.

Operating under a $1.2 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the consortium of southern public broadcasters includes WBHM; Alabama Public Television; Georgia Public Broadcasting; Louisiana Public Broadcasting; KEDM-FM in Monroe, La.; Mississippi Public Broadcasting; WNPT-TV in Nashville, Tenn.; and WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tenn. A team of multimedia journalists from each of these outlets will present in-depth reports regionally and nationally via digital platforms, community engagement programs and radio and television broadcasts.

"WBHM will be hiring a full-time education reporter who will look behind the headlines to figure out why there's an education gap in the South," says WBHM News Director Tanya Ott. "We want to know what works and how the public and policy makers can put that knowledge to work for Alabama's students and communities."

The Southern Regional Education Desk is one of seven national Local Journalism Centers funded by a $10.5 million grant from the Center for Public Broadcasting. Each will focus on a particular issue relevant to their communities and is expected to become self-sustaining by the end of the two-year funding period.

"The Local Journalism Centers initiative enhances public media's ability to meet the information needs of local communities at a time when access to high quality, original reporting is declining and we are very happy to be expanding the program," says Patricia Harrison, the CEO and President of CPB. "The need for independent and in-depth coverage of local issues is greater today than ever, and we have a responsibility to ensure that journalism can continue to thrive and serve the needs of our democracy."

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~ September 30, 2010