Every journalist began their media journey somewhere. Some found their way into the business by chance, others spent years preparing from the very spot our staff currently remains: behind the walls of our student newspaper’s office.
This newsroom, and student-journalist newsrooms everywhere, is more than just an extra-curricular or resume addition. What we do every week continues to sharpen our skills as reporters and carve out the journalist that we see as our future selves. This office provides us with the training wheels needed to learn adaptability, detail digging and ethical, but accurate, story-telling.
More than just students, it seems, see the value in student journalism.
Recently, Rowan University has emphasized the importance of both student journalists and the availability of local news, generally, through its partnership with the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium (NJCIC), aiming to “leverage public funds to help better inform underserved communities.”
Under this partnership, journalism students and faculty from the university are working with four local news outlets including Hammonton Gazette, Hopeloft, Trenton Journal and the collaborative Stories of Atlantic City project. Through this program, students within the university’s journalism department have the opportunity to gain invaluable experience through internship opportunities with each organization.
“Local journalism is part of what gives people a sense of community and a sense of belonging,” Carl Hausman, a Rowan professor of journalism and member of the NJCIC board of directors, said in a release. “This program involves both underserved members of the community and younger journalists participating through internships, which adds a new constituency to the effort to reinvigorate local news.”
As student journalists, we are the eyes and ears of our university. It falls upon our publication and ourselves as individual reporters to report what is often buried or brushed off, to bring to light the wrong-doings and tragedies within our community and highlight the voices of those underrepresented, the offerings and improvements of our university and the accolades of our student body.
Serving the university as a student-run publication provides an opportunity for informed change, accountability and influence. Because we are students, others within the student body are more likely to see the value in work created by those of the same status. Students often feel more comfortable sharing necessary, newsworthy or controversial information with those whom they feel will better understand–other students.
The position of a student journalist provides the opportunity for unbiased work that seeks to serve our peers and university community, generally, without any self-serving or face-saving motivations. When the administration might seek to censor information, it falls upon us to report the raw facts and inform our readers from all angles and perspectives.
Understanding the alarming decrease in media funding and news availability to local communities, the consortium aims to provide support for New Jersey news organizations and continue to increase the news intake of local residents.
The voice of a student journalist holds unique value on a college campus, not only providing the opportunity for otherwise-hushed student perspectives to be heard, but opportunity to hold those in greater positions of power accountable. Our publication allows us the freedom to disclose the information, facts and details needed for students campus-wide to make informed decisions and form merited opinions about our university and campus life.
Beyond this, our publication essentially serves as a university time vault, recording history as it happens and providing documentation of our campus’ most critical moments. In times when our student body feels kept in the dark, our student journalists seek to inform and spark conversation. Through hours of interviewing, researching and reporting, student journalists continually provide a platform for civil, unbiased discussions to take place and questions to be answered.
Not to mention, the experience is invaluable. Behind these walls is the closest opportunity that student reporters will get to real-world experience before beginning their professional careers – and this only further prepares them.
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