Harrington: Student Journalism

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(Host) Print journalism has lost much revenue to the internet, and many
newspapers have reduced both workforce and pages published.  But college
English instructor, former newspaper editor and commentator Elaine
Harrington reports that student journalism is alive and well in Vermont.

When a newspaper takes a three-month break each year – and starts over
with many new staffers – you would expect a few weak issues when it
returns to production.

But this year’s Vermont Cynic – "the
University of Vermont’s Independent Voice Since 1883" – hit campus on
August 30 th with 16 full pages of news, editorials, sports, and the
arts. Impressive evidence indeed that student journalism is alive and
well. And The Water Tower – "UVM’s Alternative Newsmag" – was also out
early, on September 4th with 12 pages of commentary on college life that
I wouldn’t hesitate to call "unique." And the full, interesting issues
have kept coming all semester. Two weekly newspapers, staffed by
energetic young journalists – what’s happening here?

journalism today is said to be under siege from on-line news links and
apps, and from blogs of every persuasion. Much print advertising has
gone to Craig’s List.

But student journalism is happening at the
University of Vermont – and on other college campuses in our state. The
Cynic involves more than 80 students. They write and edit articles, do
layouts, sell ads, and deliver copies via bicycle. Print circulation is
5,000 each week, and the website gets 1,000 to 4,000 hits per day.

website – probably key in the Cynic’s continuing success – just
received a prestigious Pace Award for its content and design.
Competition for this Pulitzer Prize of college journalism is intense:
from 270 entries, only five college newspaper websites were honored.

recent Cynic stories: "Students Call on Trustees to Divest Fossil
Fuels" and "Quakes Shake Vermont: Professor Says Future Tremors Likely."

Lead stories from the Water Tower include: "The Workforce
Behind the iPhone" about exploitation in Chinese factories and "Get Off
Your (expletive deleted) and Get Educated."

Watching students
unlock their power as published writers is exciting, and I feel
privileged to teach UVM writing classes that include journalism. Chris
Evans advises the Cynic staff – but students make the decisions.

Michael’s College is known for its journalism program. On its vibrant
website, The Defender reports options for choosing a mountain ("Where
Will You Ride?") and "Unions Having Success in Our Own Backyard."

The Middlebury College students’ Campus has been investigating faculty attendance at important meetings.

State College students produce The Spartan. A recent story describes
the Heart Project, in which art majors help fund art education for local

The Norwich Guidon just ran a story relevant to military life: "Some Cadets Sweat the Details of Army Weight Requirements."

since 1979, Lyndon State College students in Electronic Journalism and
TV Studies have served Northeast Kingdom towns – 14 at last count – with
their News 7 television station.

All this student journalism is
indeed inspiring. Despite concerns about the post-graduation job
market, at least some of these students will write the next wave of
journalism for the mid- 21 st century. The need for reliable, balanced
information about our community and the world will never disappear.
Other students are just gaining useful writing skills for whatever
opportunities lie ahead.

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