Fox News Seeks College Knowledge

Fox News Channel is expanding its partnership with student-reporter Web site The Palestra, a digital-news resource with 200 college and university affiliates, to woo young viewers.

The news channel is syndicating Palestra content to several aggregators, including Yahoo and Comcast, and Palestra reporters have contributed segments to since last fall, when the cable network reached a deal with the college network.

The site will relaunch next week as with the tag, “The College Network.” And within the next couple of weeks, Fox News will begin offering The Palestra’s daily news update, Gnarly News at Noon, to mobile-phone users.

Palestra and Fox Business Network will partner on a Web destination dedicated to economic issues facing college students and recent graduates, said Joel Cheatwood, Fox News’ senior vice president of development.

And once there are two clear presidential nominees, youth-vote election forums will get underway, streamed on and

Last week, Peter Doocy, son of Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy, appeared on the morning show interviewing students from Villanova University in Philadelphia about the issues that are important to them in the upcoming election.

Peter Doocy is not the first son of a TV-news personality to get his shot to follow in a parent’s footsteps. Stephan Holt, son of NBC’s Lester Holt, contributed reporting from Pepperdine University during the Malibu wildfires.

Doocy’s F&F report, Cheatwood said, “is very much in line with what we’re hoping to do [with Palestra reporters]. He had a great cross-section of students who were equally divided in terms of their political leanings and they talked about what issues made a difference to them and what the focus was to that age group. It’s kind of an interesting perspective because it’s not always what you think it would be.”

News divisions are increasingly tapping Gen Y in a synergistic effort to combat aging viewer trends and mine the young minds shaping today’s digital media.

ABC News last week announced plans to open digital bureaus at several top communications and journalism schools in an effort to tap students as news gatherers and potential recruits -- not just to the ranks of ABC News, but also as viewers.

NBC News has had an established student farm team in Channel One, where the likes of Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling cut their first TV segments. And earlier this year, the news division announced a partnership with the New York Film Academy that will give students there hands-on digital-journalism training at Channel One.

“The generation that we’re seeing in college right now is so oriented toward information,” Cheatwood said. “There’s just an enormous energy that we would like to tap into, not just to gain their perspective as content sources, but also as an additional resource for ideas. The idea exchange is just illuminating and invigorating because they always offer perspective that is slightly different than what we’re generating here.”

He added, “The key to being a successful news network is perspective and context, and I see this as an enormous step in broadening the perspective and context that we can offer.”