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"Best of News21" Showcases Innovative Student Journalism

January 19, 2010

News21, a national initiative to educate the next generation of journalists, is showcasing the best work produced by student journalists at 12 leading universities.

“The Best of News21” samples student work, ranging from a Northwestern University report on what it’s like to be a young Muslim in America to a package of stories from students at the University of Maryland on how young people view politics differently from previous generations.

The stories can be viewed at News21. All student work is available free of charge to media outlets, which can add specially created widgets to their Web sites that link directly to the content. Information on downloading the widgets is available at Free News21 Content.

News21 Executive Editor Kristin Gilger of the Cronkite School said several media organizations, including the McClatchy Co. and Gannett Co., already have moved News21 stories to their member newspapers as a way to support journalism education and share interesting new content with their readers and viewers.

“These are stories reported and produced by the next generation of journalists, who approach storytelling and presentation in different ways,” Gilger said. “Their mandate was to be innovative while telling in-depth and important stories. We want people to see what they were able to accomplish.”

News21 was launched five years ago with the support of two major foundations, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, a nationwide effort to train a new generation of journalists capable of leading and reshaping the news industry.

The initial five schools – the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, Harvard University, Northwestern University and the University of Southern California – expanded to 12 schools in 2008, and the headquarters for the program was moved to the Cronkite School.

Other participating schools are ASU, the University of Maryland, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of North Carolina, Syracuse University and University of Texas.

Students in the program attend seminars that focus on a reporting topic selected by each school. Selected students then move into a summer program during which they report, write, photograph, record and produce their stories.

In addition to reporting in-depth, students tackle the boundaries of Web innovation. Among other things this past summer, they developed video players that allow users to interact with content in new ways and created a working prototype of a national database for reporters to share hard-to-find data about cities. They used everything from motion graphics and time-lapse maps to Twitter feeds, video, slideshows and text to tell their stories. Their innovations are explained at http://news21.com/innovation-roundup/.