IWU’s Convergent Journalism students found their work could go from classroom to newsroom to news stand, all in one semester.
The students were part of the Advanced Newswriting and Reporting class in fall 2013. David Penticuff, Editor of Grant County’s Chronicle-Tribune, co-taught the course along with Dr. Randall E. King, Professor of Communication.
The transition from student to community journalist, with professional demands and deadlines, was a focal point and students found it quite challenging at first.
“Working for a community newspaper was exciting and nerve-wracking,” said Jamie Burkholder, Junior. “As I got more experience, I became more comfortable with my abilities and having people outside of my classes reading the stories I wrote.”
“It definitely stretched me as a student, said Ben Middelkamp, Senior. “Those stories weren’t just for a grade, but for the whole community to read. So I had to make sure they were as close to professional articles as possible.”
“I learned to respect what reporters for daily papers do every day,” said Jared Johnson, Junior. “I learned to value the process of determining what news is and its role in making me a better journalist.”
Penticuff brought the students to the Chronicle-Tribune newsroom early in the semester and included their assignments in daily newspaper coverage as they got more comfortable in the professional environment.
“It was gratifying to find so many students recognize the value of getting it right and of fairness, even as un-researched blogs, partisan reporting and self-centered journalism are frighteningly common,” Penticuff said. “It made me hopeful to work with these students.”
King said this class fits what some media educators now call the “teaching hospital” model of journalism education – putting students into real-world environments, producing news coverage with the guidance and support of faculty and professionals.
“I think the students found out reporting is reporting and they already have the basic tools from their IWU experience. In the professional world you just have to do it faster and with more focus,” said King.
“There’s no way to re-create that kind of environment in the classroom, so I love that our program requires this experience while students are still in school,” King said.