The Future of Journalism: Real World Training at Today’s Colleges and Universities

The Future of Journalism

They say you get the best real world training in college.

The best example: The college newspaper. It’s where budding journalism students learn and grow, setting the tone for the future of the industry.

Students are on the frontlines of big picture things, namely the intersection of technology and news, improving newsroom diversity and coverage of ethnic communities, and breaking down how things will be covered to their intended audience.

All of this points to one goal: Building relationships and establishing trust with news consumers.

Pressley Baird, editor of College Town at the News & Observer and professor at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Media and Journalism

I recently spoke with Pressley Baird, editor of College Town at the News & Observer and professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism, about the value of working with college media.

Baird believes the students have more opportunities to receive jobs and internships as a result of working with their college papers.

What’s most valuable, is “having the safe place to fail before you have to go out into the real world,” she shared.

“It’s much easier if you fail at your college paper and have people there to support you and tell you how you can not make that same mistake again, and how you can do better, than to get out in your first job and fail there,” Baird says.

The top 50 college newspapers in the country were compiled in a list by College Choice.

Content within these papers ran the gamut from hard news to pop culture, which increased audience, reaching beyond the student body and engaging the local community.

Sharing a Common Ground

Most college publications have a couple of things in common: An established online presence and active social media channels.

Twitter and Facebook are the most popular platforms; most college papers are active with both.

Some newspapers have Instagram accounts, and others have YouTube.

The majority of posts on social media promote published content or newspaper distributions.

Notable mentions:

  • The Daily Tar Heel (University of North Carolina) has a newsletter. Subscribers can choose to receive curated news, headlines, sports news, breaking news, and local discounts directly to their inboxes.
  • Kentucky Kernel (University of Kentucky) has a subset of blogs with student content. The newspaper’s site links directly with the blogs, covering sports, fashion, higher education, and travel.

The Daily Kernal krnl fashion blog

Coverage that Matters

When it comes to news coverage, student media typically involve the surrounding community.

The obvious stories include athletic defeats and triumphs, campus changes, policies, and student government elections.

Less obvious are the more controversial topics — students who jumped right into covering the Trump administration.

Student media also are demonstrating a sophisticated level of fact reporting, remaining unbiased with university issues.

The takeaway: Student journalists aren’t afraid to dig deep and investigate stories that relate to their audience.

Notable mentions:

  • The Hilltop (Howard University) published a story about student sentiment over the college president’s visit with President Trump.
  • The Daily Orange (Syracuse University) sought out professors for expert opinions on the American Health Care Act.

Trump Administration Highlights Discord on Howard University_s Campus – The Hilltop

Gaining Consumer Trust

News Media Alliance said, in a #SupportRealNews campaign video: “The future of our country depends on the ability of journalists to provide the public with investigative news.”

Daily Bruin College Paper reader pollThe largest hurdle of media in general nowadays is gaining the trust of news consumers. Unfortunately, this greatly affects graduating journalism students prepping for real world newsrooms.

Here are some examples of how student media are establishing trust through relationships:

  • The Daily Bruin (University of California, Los Angeles) features interactive content like opinion polls on issues that affect the student community.
  • In its request for donations, Yale Daily News (Yale University) emphasizes how donations fund its mission to train future journalists and provide vital information to the surrounding community.

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Tabresha B. Langham is a Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She also is a social media junkie, foodie, music fiend and Auburn University Alumn (War Eagle!). Tune into her insights as a social curator at @PRNmedia, or follow @TabreshaL.

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