As part of a new program to connect professional journalists with University of Wisconsin students, Joel Christopher of Gannett Wisconsin Media has been named the campus’ first Journalist in Residence.

The new program will bring a state journalist to campus each semester to connect with students, faculty and staff in formal and informal settings, a university statement said. The purpose of the program is to create meaningful relationships between journalists and students.

“This is just another way that UW-Madison is reaching out across the state and connecting with people and communities,” spokesperson Vince Sweeney said in the statement. “Joel has a range of experience that will benefit our campus community, and we’re delighted he’s willing to share his perspectives and experience our university at work.”

Christopher is the digital editor for Gannett Wisconsin. He oversees digital operations for newsrooms in Appleton, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Manitowac, Marshfield, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids.

UW’s first journalist in residence is also a former university alum and a former Editor-in-Chief of The Badger Herald.

The opportunity to reach out to his former school and work hands-on with students and faculty were majoring selling points, Christopher said.

“I think it’s very important for working journalists to work with students and faculty in our field, especially with the ever-changing landscape of the journalism field,” he said in an interview with the Herald. “I have often thought that we can do a much better job as journalists at connecting with our alma maters and reaching out to the future journalists that our former schools will produce.”

Christopher is part of the Gannett team tasked with transforming the nation’s largest media company using digital metrics. He said his goal is to expand and reach new audiences. He is also currently training journalists in digital news in large markets like Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky.

He will be on campus April 7-9 to meet with students and faculty.

[Photo by Jeff Miller/UW Communications]