CMM Special Series: What Do Student Journalists Want to Learn More About Journalism? (Part 9)

During his recent efforts to help plan programming for the fall 2015 ACP/CMA National College Media Convention — the world’s largest annual gathering of student journalists and their advisers and profs — David Simpson wanted to hear more from the students themselves. Specifically, he was curious: In these changing times, what do potential student attendees want to get most from a journalism conference experience? So Simpson, a revered veteran journalist and director of student media at Georgia Southern University, reached out to me with his student-first query. I in turn reached out to the summer 2015 CMM Editorial Fellows — an elite crew of current and recent student journalists.

For this CMM special series, 14 Fellows offer their perspectives, ideas and advice centered on a single question: What topic, tech tool, news beat, skill-set or current event would you love to learn more about, lead a session on or help debate during a journalism convention? Their answers run the gamut — touching on everything from science journalism and Snapchat to sexual assault coverage and workflow management.

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What Do Student Journalists Want to Learn More About Journalism?
Part 9: ‘How Can a Student Make It Different?’

By Nicole Brown, New York University

Summer 2015 CMM Editorial Fellow

A topic that would serve as the foundation for a great session at the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention is how to add a student angle to off-campus stories. There are always stories student writers want to cover that are not happening on campus, especially when their college or university is located in a city. Generally, this means that other news organizations will be covering the same story. So how can a student make it different?

Student journalists have to always be thinking about how to make their content appealing to their fellow students in ways that other outlets aren’t already doing. Why would students want to read about protests in New York City or a concert or movie review in a student publication if they can read it in The New York Times or Entertainment Weekly instead?

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A special “Election Issue” of the Washington Square News at New York University, published in October 2012.

The only way to convince students to read college media is to offer a new angle or perspective. Students should and can cover city, state and national news, but they have to find ways to show that their coverage matters. Before the 2012 presidential election, the Washington Square News produced a special issue that included polls from students on campus and information about the issues that mattered specifically to students. This is a great example of giving a national story an NYU student angle that wasn’t found in other outlets.

I think there should also be attention paid in the session to the significance of finding a proper balance between on-campus and off-campus news. On-campus stories are generally stories that no one else is reporting on, which makes them important for college media to cover. Students should be focused on gathering tips and sources for these types of stories, while also finding ways to report differently on off-campus stories.

Nicole Brown is a rising senior journalism and politics major at New York University. She served as editor-in-chief of Washington Square News in 2014. She is also a summer 2015 CMM Editorial Fellow.

Check out other parts of this CMM special series

Part 1: ‘The Interesting Important & the Important Interesting’ by Danielle Klein, University of Toronto

Part 2: ‘Best Practices, Pros, Cons & Even Some Mistakes’ by Emma Discher, Tulane University

Part 3: ‘Fresh Ideas & Fresh Blood’ by Sami Edge, University of Oregon

Part 4: ‘The Way We Edit & Upload Stories’ by Ali Swenson

Part 5: ‘So You Want to Make a Tabloid Newspaper?’ by Claire Dodson, University of Tennessee

Part 6: ‘An Independent Student Newspaper?’ by Kyle Walker, University of Tulsa

Part 7: ‘How to Present Data in the Most Compelling Way’ by Nizia Alam, University of Texas at Tyler

Part 8: ‘Student Media Consumption Habits’ by Matt Lemas, University of Southern California

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