student journalists

PRNDI has joined the Society of Professional Journalists, Student Press Law Center, and 17 other organizations, in urging education leaders to renounce the actions of the Neshaminy School District in Bucks County, Pa. for punishing student journalists and their adviser for resolving not to use the school’s Native American mascot name, in its publication.

Arriving on-time for work.  Dressing in a professional manner.  Staying focused on the job.  These are all traits we expect from people who work in our newsrooms, and perhaps traits we expect most people to have learned somewhere along the way.  However, when you work in an environment where your staff may not only be new to a newsroom, but new to the workplace, you may have to spell out some ground rules. 

With as many as 15 students working in my newsroom at any given time, someone is bound to say they can’t cover an assignment because they have to study for an exam.  Or as the weather warms up, someone may show up to cover the mayor’s news conference wearing shorts and sandals. That’s when I refer them to the newsroom contract they signed when starting at WFUV.

What separates a classroom from a newsroom?  I argue not much.  Like a teacher, newsroom managers have to inspire, encourage, and educate the people they work with every day.  With that in mind, here is the first of what I hope to be a regular installment in a Newsroom as Classroom series.

Teaching is ingrained in the culture of my newsroom.  I’m the ND of WFUV FM, an NPR affiliate station, based on the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University in the Bronx.  We’re only a two-person full-time news department.  It’s me and my assistant ND, Robin Shannon.  But, we’re a large department when you count up our student staffing.  We have as many as 15 students who work in our newsroom at any given time.  They serve as anchors, reporters, writers and producers.