For a semester, teams of students at Arizona State University poked and prodded the Malheur Enterprise. Recently, we traveled to Phoenix to hear what they concluded.

Les Zaitz and Scotta Callister of the Malheur Enterprise with students and professors at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

The call and resulting invitation from Susan Lisovicz in December surprised me.

Lisovicz is a professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She’s also a national caliber broadcast journalist with deep experience at CNN and other venues.

She wanted to know if I’d be willing to let the Malheur Enterprise serve as a class project for her students. Helped by John Dille, she teaches a course called “Business and Future of Journalism.” Her students would study the Enterprise, consider where we wanted to go as a business, and then propose solutions.

That one of the nation’s top journalism colleges would come knocking on our door was flattering. That the professor and her students wanted to help us get better was intriguing.

Without hesitation, I agreed. After all, Scotta Callister, my wife and former publisher, and I have regarded the Enterprise as a journalism laboratory since we bought it in 2015.

We have a strong belief that communities want quality local news, that people aren’t much for gossip and canned copy, and that doing well in journalism also requires doing well as a business.

So, in January, I jumped into the digital world, meeting with Lisovicz’s class through a video link. I spent more than an hour describing the history of the Enterprise, what I thought its future was, and where we could use some creative help.