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CU-Citizen Access partners faculty and students with professionals in WILL newsroom

2/21/2011  3:00 pm

PATTERNS (March 2011 issue) — Community and University of Illinois College of Media journalists from CU-CitizenAccess.org have set up a working office in the Illinois Public Media newsroom as part of a new collaboration that includes journalism students from the college.

Students and CU-Citizen Access staffers Pam Dempsey, Dan Petrella and Acton Gordon will report and research stories in the community, and WILL news staffers will help them produce and edit some of their stories for broadcast on WILL and for the Web.

The project is funded by the Stevick Foundation of Champaign, a matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the U of I. It is overseen by journalism faculty members Brant Houston and Rich Martin, who have extensive newsroom experience. Houston said the project is part of a Knight Foundation initiative to encourage community support of news and information efforts.

The CU-Citizen Access Project began two years ago, and its staff and journalism students have produced dozens of stories on poverty and other socio-economic issues in Champaign County.

WILL and CU-Citizen Access expect to see both formal and informal collaborations that will provide a two-way benefit, said Illinois Public Media director of news and public affairs Tom Rogers.

"We can collaborate with the project's reporters and students on a whole new level of investigative journalism, and students can get a feel for the dynamics of a newsroom and the demands of editors in a number of platforms, from audio to online." But, he said, the audience may be the biggest beneficiary. "They'll have easier access to deeper stories that affect their own neighborhoods," he said.

Courtesy of Patterns Magazine, the magazine of the Friends of WILL

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