Traditionally, journalism students gain professional experience before graduation through internships, part-time or summer jobs, and campus media.
Those avenues are often insufficient to adequately prepare them for professional workplaces and standards.
In a recently published study, Knight Center director Eric Freedman and senior associate director Dave Poulson examine two practice-based programs at the Michigan State University School of Journalism that provide that essential preparation: Great Lakes Echo, covering environmental news in eight states and two Canadian provinces, and Capital News Service covering government, politics and public policy in Michigan.
Undergrad and master’s students staff both news services. Their published and posted articles and visuals are valuable additions to their portfolios and resumes.
The study observes, “The much-bewailed downturn in the economic fate of traditional news organizations benefits these types of practice-driven, production-focused programs at journalism schools.”
Amid shrinking staffs at newspapers, mainstream wire services and broadcast stations, there are fewer reporters and photographers covering the environment and public affairs, it says. And importantly, news outlets that use Great Lakes Echo and CNS material “receive low-cost or no-cost coverage that serves the interests of their readers and audiences while enriching the educational depth and breadth of future professional journalists and communicators.”
“Real-World Learning of Public Affairs and Environmental Journalism: Two Models” appeared in Journalism & Mass Communication Educator. Poulson is founder and editor of Great Lakes Echo, which began in 2009. Freedman is director of Capital News Service, which started in 1981.