Reporting Texas develops next generation journalists
How does a student become a journalist? By doing all the things a professional reporter does to get the story: tracking down sources, asking the tough questions, combing through public records.
That’s exactly how journalism students at The University of Texas at Austin College of Communication are learning the trade. Under the tutelage of veteran reporters — both School of Journalism faculty and professionals in the field — students have the chance to put their skills to the test.
The School of Journalism has a long history of taking a hands-on approach. In decades past, the program’s writing and editing labs shared space with The Daily Texan and often worked on stories with Texan writers. In the 1990s, students provided articles to small daily and weekly newspapers through Caplink.
More recently, a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education allowed Professor Tracy Dahlby to launch the digital media project Reporting Texas. And Dahlby and Bill Minutaglio created an investigative journalism course, which also follows the teaching clinic model.
Through Reporting Texas students collaborate with a variety of news outlets including the Austin American-Statesman and KUT 90.5 FM. One student recently landed a front-page story about the Tea Party’s targeting of an in-state tuition law in the Dallas Morning News.
“We create the same expectations as a professional newsroom and help students to produce stories to industry standards,” Dahlby said. “They can then add clips to their portfolios and it helps them when they go looking for jobs.”
The next generation of journalists needs to be prepared. Not only for the rigors of reporting but for the challenges of navigating a shifting journalistic landscape. At a time when traditional media outlets face an uncertain future, the new ranks must be able to apply the fundamentals on a variety of platforms.
The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism is up to the task.