Journalistic Thinking and Intro Newswriting

The value of journalism programs today is not that we place students in reporting and editing jobs, but that we teach them how to think journalistically (as I’ve written about before here and here.)  One way we can expand journalistic thinking to the entire campus community as well to amateur journalists is to help our students form a peer-editing corps. Journalism students internalize their classroom learning as they explain it to others. The quality of amateur journalism increases and the curiosity and precision required by journalistic thinking becomes part of our campus culture.

Students studying news writing, reporting and editing would hold periodic peer-editing sessions with a small group. Perhaps three journalism facilitator-students to 10 participants. Journalism students would critique the writing and reporting of the participants. Is the writing precise and concise? Is the spelling and grammar accurate? What questions are left unanswered?

An “each-one, teach-one” approach such as this would cost next to nothing. A few thousand dollars a year to support the role of a faculty mentor and various community-building activities.

Assessing the effect of a program like this would be easy as well. Survey all participants. Analyze content of participants before and after. Compare participant’s blog posts with non-participants blog posts.

It incorporates research, teaching and community service.

Some questions:

* Would there be interest among journalism students?

* Would there be interest among non-journalism students?

* Would there be interest among amateur, volunteer journalists in the community?

* How would the program reach volunteer journalists in communities far from campus?

* If you’re an employer, how much do you think an applicants participation in a program like this — as a mentor — would  influence your hiring decision?

* Are there similar programs out there that already exist?

* Could you incorporate this as service-learning component of a basic news writing/editing/reporting class?

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