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Student journalists get clips from class

June 9, 2005

Photo of the Oakland Tribune buildingSenior journalism student Richard McKeethen learned the power of the press during the spring semester when he wrote a story about the Mac Mini computer for his NewsBureau class. The story brought several e-mail responses -- including one from someone in Australia.

"Imagine that -- some dude on another continent is reading my work. Wow!" McKeethen said. "There was a Ph.D. guy, an IT manager and someone else, too. And they didn't just give me their two cents on my story; it was more like their $20 worth."

NewsBureau, a new course that pairs journalism students with professional newspaper editors, was designed to bring fresh, young voices into professional, ANG newspaper offices. The ANG newspaper chain owns the Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Tri-Valley Herald, Daily Review, The Argus and San Mateo County Times. The papers have a combined circulation of about 227,000.

For 37-year-old McKeethen, the class helped him get his stories published so that he can move from his previous career as an IT manager into his new role as a journalist.

"The NewsBureau class is getting me clips, and it's teaching me how to act and how to report news like a real journalist," McKeethen said. "It's a whole lot of fun, too. I think that the NewsBureau class is by far the most useful and productive course I've taken in my college career."

The Oakland Tribune pitched the NewsBureau class idea in 2004, hoping to improve its ability to reach a younger readership by printing stories by and about young people. Yvonne Daley, associate professor of journalism, helped design the course and agreed to teach it because it gives students practical experience at being real journalists.

"You can't get a job in journalism without clips," Daley said. "You can't go into a job interview with a book of poetry, like I did in the late '70s. It's so competitive now. Our students need clips from major metropolitan newspapers and smaller newspapers so an editor can see how their work was used in different publications."

Every week, NewsBureau students scoured through news sources for breaking news stories. Students submitted their first draft by the assigned deadline to Daley for coaching and advice. An ANG editor tweaked the second draft and then the story was published in a professional newspaper.

NewsBureau photographers and reporters were also encouraged to pitch Bay Area feature story ideas to ANG editors. This spring, Daley's students wrote about and photographed a singles group that celebrates being single on Valentine's Day, "‘Haiku Night" at a local bar, flashy hubcaps called "spinners" that spin freely while a car is being driven, moshing at live music performances, virginity pledges and fashion shows for plus-size women.

The 15 or so students in the class have had more than 40 stories and photographs published in ANG papers, and another two dozen are awaiting publication. Many of the stories are published in multiple ANG papers, and many appear on the Oakland Tribune's Web site, Daley says.

Daley's students were offered paid summer internships and paid, freelance contracts with the Oakland Tribune. But NewsBureau is not just helping journalism students get a head start on their careers. The class also helps newspapers cover stories that appeal to a younger audience -- an audience in their late teens and early 20s.

The Oakland Tribune is running more features and profiles that are not "fluff pieces," but quality stories with depth, said Martin Reynolds, assistant city editor at the Tribune.

"These stories can take a little longer to do and require perspective, and a 21-year-old mosher is not necessarily working at the Tribune," Reynolds said. "It speaks to the need for having more diverse kinds of people go into journalism and go into newsrooms. Our demographic now at the [Tribune] is definitely older than 15 to 25, and that's a problem. We're quicker to cover the symphony than a Jay-Z concert."

-- Student Writer Gary Moskowitz with Adrianne Bee


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Last modified June 10, 2005 by University Communications