A few years ago, Ethan Colbert got the chance to figure out just what he wanted to do with his career as a journalist.

Colbert, then an undergrad at the University of Missouri, Columbia's Missouri School of Journalism, worked with a program that sent him to a small town about an hour west of St. Louis for a week. He left wanting to work at a local weekly, like Washington’s Missourian. (Disclosure: I graduated from MU’s journalism school.)

And he left believing that small communities deserve good journalism, too.

So when Colbert, now editor-in-chief of his hometown newspaper, the Bowling Green (Missouri) Times, heard that MU had a program that would place five students into rural Missouri newsrooms to help them learn new digital skills, he wanted to be part of it, and not just because of what his newsroom could learn.

At the beginning of the year, Bowling Green was one of five newsrooms to take part in the new Potter Digital Ambassador program. That program is part of the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Walter B. Potter Sr. Fund for Innovation in Local Journalism. And it’s designed for both the students and the newspapers to benefit from, said Randy Picht, RJI’s executive director.

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