Bostonians are benefitting from enhanced news coverage of their neighborhoods, thanks to a partnership between The Boston Globe and Northeastern’s School of Journalism.
Under a program that began this academic year, students are reporting and writing stories for the Globe’s Your Town websites. The stories, which also count as classwork, must satisfy Globe editors as well as their professor.
“Increasingly, students in the School of Journalism are doing real journalism as part of their coursework, instead of practice journalism,” said associate professor Stephen Burgard, director of the school.
Lisa Chedekel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who teaches feature writing, arranged a pilot program last fall. “Eight students in my Journalism 2 class had stories published in Your Town last semester, when we were experimenting,” she said recently. “It went great — a win-win for our students, who got stories published, and the Globe, which got good content for their Your Town websites.”
This semester, she said, her featuring writing class “is operating as a mini-newsroom, with students responsible for covering Fenway/Kenmore, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill/Roxbury, West Roxbury and East Boston/Charlestown. The students will write news-feature stories every two weeks during the semester, for both the class and the Your Town sites.”
Chedekel works with the students on their reporting and writing, and edits the stories before they are submitted to the Globe, she noted.
The Your Town partnership is one of several established by the journalism school to give its students real-world experience that they can use to leverage job and graduate school opportunities after graduation.
Professor Walter Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor, works with graduate and undergraduate students to produce investigative reporting for the Globe, and, with former Globe colleague Stephen Kurkjian and the Initiative for Investigative Reporting, for the Cambridge Day and the Dorchester Reporter.
Students in introductory news writing courses also work with faculty to write stories for community newspapers, such as the monthly Fenway News.
“I’ve had some really good (writers) — dynamic, resourceful, proactive — who usually get scooped up by the first professional organization that gives them an internship,” said Stephen Brophy, editor of the Fenway News.
A bonus, Brophy said, is that journalism teachers do much of the editing in advance. “They don’t pass articles along to me until they approve, so there’s not much for me to do but post them,” he said.
The trend of students also writing for professional media outlets “comes as universities are becoming partners with news organizations in interesting new ways,” said Burgard. “Northeastern, which already has a tradition of high-quality journalism training through co-ops and internships, is on the cutting edge of this trend.”