University Journalism: Are Student Papers Really Needed?

An interesting news piece on reveals that final year journalism students at Coventry University will be responsible for the copy and pictures of the Coventry Telegraph’s community pages.

It is a very promising initiative which will no doubt benefit both the students and the paper; however it has got me thinking. Is it better than a student paper?

In terms of exposing your talents to potential employers I would argue that it is. The editor of the Coventry Telegraph, who set up the scheme, will have direct access to the students work and they will have more of an opportunity to impress him than if they were to take cuttings from their time at the Uni paper.

On the flip side, are Uni papers irreplaceable? They are most people’s first experience of the hustle and bustle of a news room environment. For others, it is the platform in which the skill of being an editor is learnt. But are employers really swayed by a candidate’s record at their Uni paper? I am not sure.

Is a project like this the future of practical journalism while at Uni and will it yield more jobs in the process? Its success and popularity is something to look out for and only time will tell. But in terms of giving students a chance, I would say it’s certainly a good start.


4 Responses to University Journalism: Are Student Papers Really Needed?

  1. A.J. O'Connell says:

    The Coventry Telegraph’s work with journalism students is certainly a good idea for the newspaper (free or cheap labor) and a great opportunity for the students (career opportunities down the road) but there is no replacement for the college press.

    As adviser to a college newspaper in the US, I’ll admit bias on this issue, but still, a college newspaper affords students the freedom to cherish the ideals of a free press. In the industry itself, those ideals are too often comprised.

    • Matt Wiggins says:

      I would agree with that. The work with the Coventry Telegraph certainly won’t allow the students much freedom, the student newsroom is probably the only place for that. But I wonder if the student newsroom gets a graduate a job?

      I would be inclined to think the Telegraph are more likely to employ a graduate after seeing them work on a section of the paper rather than discussing their achievements on a student paper during an interview?

      • A.J. O'Connell says:

        Certainly the Telegraph job is a useful stepping stone to a job for a grad. It sounds almost like an internship, actually.

        But I definitely think that employers look at things like experience on a student newspaper. A student editor has made decisions, handled responsibilities and managed staff. That’s huge, because real-world editors need reporters who can think for themselves.

        So I think there’s a place for both the student paper and the Telegraph job. Hell, I wish my student had an opportunity like that.

      • Matt Wiggins says:

        Maybe there is a case, then, to intergrate a scheme like this into a University syllabus nationwide? Especially in the final year when practical journalism and experience are what really counts.

        Someone with local news room experience and management skills learnt through the student paper would be a leading candidate for most jobs after graduating, I would have thought.

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