Student paper launches academy for new reporters

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ECU Student Media Director John Harvey, standing, prepares candidates for a position as writers or editors at the East Carolinian through a new training program called the News Academy. Participants in the foreground, left to right, are Emily Schultz and Will Franklin; and visible in the background, left to right, Wayne Hall, Brooke Rowe, Amanda Adkins and Shane Cuthrell. (Contributed photos)

 

ECU News Services

The East Carolinian, a student newspaper with a long and storied history, debuted a comprehensive training program for first-time reporters last semester.

The News Academy program establishes a structure whereby full-time East Carolina University students in good academic standing may become reporters and editors, but only after first successfully completing basic requirements during what is called their “candidate semester.”

Those requirements include working with two peer editors, attending 10 basic journalism classes, writing at least four publishable newspaper articles and handling weekly “desk duties” in The East Carolinian newsroom.

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Puja Patel, left, and Wayne Hall enjoy a laugh during the News Academy.

The core of the program, coordinated by ECU Student Media Director John Harvey, is a series of weekly classes. They include modules on libel and privacy law, ethics and sensitivity and diversity awareness, as well as practical sessions on newsgathering, news reporting, feature writing and editing. There are also sessions on “meet the staff” and “meet student media” that give the candidates a better understanding of the organization.

Harvey teaches all of the modules except diversity awareness, which this year was taught by Melissa Haithcox-Dennis, director of ECU’s Ledonia Wright Cultural Center.

The first-ever class began in September with 14 students. Tryouts and interviews were held in August, after which TEC staff members chose those students who would make the maiden voyage. The process repeated itself in January when TEC students recruited, interviewed and selected the Spring 2014 Candidate Class.

The historic Fall 2013 Candidate Class graduates included Jordan Register, Brooke Rowe, Corey Keenan, Brian Wudkwych, Shane Cutthrell, Wayne Hall, Edward Boseman, Puja Patel, Will Franklin, Jesse Deal, Caroline West, Amanda Atkins and Emily Schultz.

Harvey, a newspaper veteran with an additional 15-year career in journalism education, fine-tuned the program while adviser at The Daily Collegian, Penn State University’s student newspaper, from 1998 to 2010. He tweaked it further and successfully instituted it at Georgia Southern while serving as that university’s director of student media from 2010-2013.

Since arriving in Greenville last February, Harvey has been setting the groundwork for adapting the program to the needs of The East Carolinian.

“It has been a difficult transition for the current staff, no doubt about that, because it requires our editors to do an awful lot of additional work, to train, mentor and teach these young journalists,” Harvey said. “But I am thrilled with our progress. These are some terrific students we have here at TEC, and they are working extremely hard to make this happen. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Harvey also had praise for the candidate class.  “I am grateful to these students for taking a chance on this new program. I see them as pioneers. And they also happen to be very impressive group of student journalists. From this group will grow a program.”

ECU student radio station WZMB is in the process of creating its own version of the News Academy – WZMB Radio Corp. Adviser Terrence Dove student Station Manager Victoria Loveless have spearheaded program, which is shorter than News Academy but based on similar principles.

“The goal of Radio Corp is to provide a solid foundation of station, broadcasting and FCC guidelines and principles for all potential WZMB staff members,” Dove said. “The six-week course will provide students a strong understanding of broadcasting ethics, FCC compliance policies, best radio station practices and procedures and tips from professional on-air personalities regarding how to brand themselves and their shows effectively.”

The first WZMB course began Jan. 22 and includes 14 new candidates and eight returning on-air personalities.

More information about ECU student media is available online at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-studentaffairs/studentmedia.

Kathryn Kennedy of ECU News Services contributed to this article.