A new West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism service is providing West Virginia’s newspapers with free content to augment their online and print publications. And students are benefitting as well – gaining real-world experience producing multimedia stories for publication.

Through the new Mountaineer News Service, senior journalism students are producing multi-platform news and feature packages, which are offered monthly to members of the West Virginia Press Association as free content. The packages are aimed at engaging younger audiences as well as enhancing the paper’s online presence.

“This program offers incredible benefits and value to newspapers of the West Virginia Press Association,” said WVPA Executive Director Don Smith. “It gives West Virginia newspapers additional multi-platform offerings at a time when more and more of our readers/viewers want their news online or on their mobile device.”

Since the WVPA began offering the service to its members last month, The Hampshire Review, a weekly paper in Romney, W.Va., has already featured two stories from Mountaineer News Service – one focusing on a military veteran’s transition to university life and the other highlighting opposing views on WVU’s move to the Big 12 conference. Both stories included text, photos and videos produced by School of Journalism students.

Hampshire Review Managing Editor Jim King says the service provides his staff stories they wouldn’t otherwise run across in services like The Associated Press and ones that can better engage a younger audience.

“In our newsroom, it seems that we’re great at covering stories that are going on with kids or that might be interesting to senior citizens,” said King. “But finding stories that touch the lives of 20-somethings and 30-somethings is critical and sometimes difficult.”

In years past, a similar capstone course was required for print journalism majors only and placed students with individual newspapers. The restructured course brings together visual, television and print journalism students to function as a converged newsroom. Throughout the course, students learn to research, report, write, photograph, video, edit and produce news stories and multimedia packages in a professional atmosphere.

“We don’t expect our students to be experts in all forms of media,” said Associate Professor John Temple. “But we hope that they have a better understanding of what it takes to produce multimedia news packages in a team environment. We want them to be able to think creatively and contribute ideas to the mix.”

The Mountaineer News Service is in line with other top journalism schools who are serving as “news creators and innovators” for their local communities – a charge set forth by the Knight Foundation in their recent “Open Letter to America’s University Presidents.”

The Knight Foundation’s letter also encourages school of journalism to adopt a “teaching hospital” model, in which students are practitioners that serve their communities.

Kate Barr, a WVU television journalism senior from Haddonfield, N.J., says that working as a news service team while still in school has boosted her confidence as she prepares to enter the job market.

“Multimedia is the future,” said Barr. “You have to be knowledgeable in every aspect of journalism. Coming out of the journalism school, I not only have the knowledge of this major and what makes a successful journalist, but I also have the work to show for it.”

The latest student stories on the Mountaineer News Service are available at http://mountaineernewsservice.com/.



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CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism