After ending a two-year partnership with online news source Pop + Politics, the Annenberg School for Communication plans to launch a beta version of a new online journalism learning lab this spring.
The site, which Annenberg hopes to launch in Jaunary, would function in concert with the existing student-run news services Annenberg TV News and Annenberg Radio News, and would also serve as an outlet for students to publish their stories in an online news forum.
This will be a working news site for journalism students to feed their reporting into, said Marc Cooper, the Annenberg journalism professor who is heading the project.
Cooper said content for the news source will come from the original reporting of students directly involved in the project, as well as from stories journalism students have reported for their classes that would have otherwise remained unpublished.
Cooper said the journalism school had a good sense six or seven years ago to begin a convergence curriculum, which included introducing online classes in Annenbergs core curriculum in addition to print and broadcast.
Part of the convergence included a collaboration between Pop + Politics and Annenberg, made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation. Pop + Politics is an online news source founded by Farai Chideya, host of News and Notes on National Public Radio, who has lectured at Annenberg in the past. Chideya formed the site to put out stories she was unable to get broadcast during her time as a correspondent on CNN, particularly stories regarding pop culture.
About a half dozen USC journalism graduate students are assigned to work for the Web site as part of their graduate package.
Chris Nelson, a second-year graduate student studying print journalsim, was assigned to work as a staff writer when he began his graduate studies and continues to work for the site as an editor.
Nelson said the online format gave him more control over style while still working with editors. He was sent by Pop + Politics to cover the Democratic National Convention and called writing for the online medium invaluable.
Nelson said USC is right to offer online experience to its journalism students through the new initiative, citing the shrinkage of the print industry as one reason why students should branch out into new forms of reporting.
Everyone is always talking about how online journalism is the future, and Im glad that USC is acknowledging the need for a robust online journalism training program, Nelson said.
Students said the program would give them a chance to experience online journalism at a time when many news outlets are moving substantial resources into the medium. The Christian Science Monitor, a major Boston-based daily, recently announced it would stop publishing a print version.
I would definitely be interested in this program, even though Im a broadcast student, Brittney Marin, a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. There are so many jobs and internships that require experience with web-based journalism.
Cooper said the spring launch marks the beginning of the growth of the program.
We will spend a lot of time through the spring and summer to develop a more robust multimedia site with a more dramatic presence by the fall, he said.