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Alfred University professor co-founds worldwide student news web site
8/03/10

Participants at this summer’s second annual World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) at Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, Grahamstown, South Africa, were introduced to what founders are calling the first worldwide college Web site, College NewsNet International (CNI).

Co-founders are Robyn Goodman, professor of communications studies at Alfred University and Mary Cardaras, chairman of The New England Institute of Art’s Digital Media and Communications Department and freelancer for CNN. The two launched CNI, a global approach to the practice of journalism – by students for students — on day one of the three-day conference.

“I am thrilled to be able to work with past and present AU students, the Fiat Lux (Alfred University’s student newspaper) and AU's good friend Mary Cardaras to bring one-stop college journalism to the world community,” said Goodman.

“CNI will give college students worldwide an opportunity to compare and contrast their international colleagues’ coverage of all types of local and international news and features. Through this easy access, college students worldwide will be given the opportunity to interact among one another like never before.

“We’re hoping this unprecedented access will remind college students of the importance of their work to the world community and will inspire them to always report at a professional level. After all, the world is listening,” Goodman added.

Cardaras said she modeled CNI on CNN’s “World Report,” which welcomes viewpoints from TV networks across the world. CNI’s approach allows student journalists from all over the world to see what’s going on in other countries and continents. Student journalists can submit news articles, photographs, podcasts, videos and cartoons, with their submissions attracting global audiences and international exposure.

The Web site is set to launch in September 2010. Student journalists are encouraged to register on this site as soon as possible to secure early CNI coverage. Go to: http://collegenewsnet.org.

The Web site will display a wide variety of student work, including print stories, radio podcasts, video news packages, documentaries, photojournalism (stills, essays, and documentaries), political cartoons, and commentaries/columns.

Students will contribute their work to CNI through their institution-based, self-appointed editor as often as they choose. If the work is accepted, CNI will provide a byline for each student, including the college attended and an e-mail address. Each student will have sole intellectual ownership of his/her work.

If another college publication, broadcast, or Web site wishes to use CNI work, or if a professional news media outlet wishes to publish it, each must obtain permission directly from the student author. CNI will also link to each contributing journalism and mass communication program that these students represent.

In their project proposal, Goodman and Cardaras note, “In a world full of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, ‘tweets’ and blogs are unfortunately becoming acceptable substitutions for thorough, responsible reporting. Accordingly, college students are in serious need of a quality, one-stop ‘space’ to strengthen their journalism skills, experience convergence and to become engaged participants in the way tomorrow’s journalists will connect with one another.

“Hosting a collective space featuring the best work of local student journalists against a global backdrop will also help foster higher standards in the practice of journalism,” they added.

“AU students will become some of the very first to submit their journalistic work,” said Goodman, who is scheduled to present CNI to a national audience at the Denver Association of Education for Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference the first week of August. “CNI represents an excellent opportunity for our students to compare their journalistic coverage with that of their international counterparts AND to show off their work for future employers worldwide,” said Goodman.

She noted that Alumna Jessica Barnthouse, AU class of 2008 who was a communications studies/English major, has been instrumental in helping set up and promote CNI and will serve as the site’s editor.

“This project should be a great bridge among alumni, current students, future students, and the Fiat, said Goodman. “And not just communications students but any students who want to get published on this site and get the world to read their work will be given the chance to do so,” she added.

“I’m really excited to be an editor for CNI,” said Barnthouse, currently employed at Somerville Community Access Television outside of Boston, MA. She is membership/outreach coordinator/youth instructor, performing film production and marketing.

Following graduation, Barnthouse accepted an internship (eventually becoming associate producer) with a documentary film crew working on a PBS film called “The Way We Get By,” recently nominated for a national Emmy in “Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story-Long Form.”

“My tasks (for CNI) will be reading through the articles that are submitted to the Web site and picking the ‘best of the best’ to be showcased on the site. In addition to being the ‘purest’ expression of journalism (since CNI has zero commercial interests), CNI is also all about holding students to the highest standards of journalism in order to prepare them for when they graduate and become the world’s journalism professionals,” explained Barnthouse.

“As a former Communications Studies major, I feel the concept of the Web site is fantastic — and long overdue. It will be amazing for students to have access to student news reports from all over the world, and to have the opportunity to have their articles published in student newspapers outside their own academic institutions,” she added.

Also on board is Alumnus Thomas Fleming, AU class of 2010 and former editor of the Fiat Lux. Fleming submitted content from the Fiat for the site demonstration in South Africa and offered feedback.

“As the former Fiat editor, I am really excited about this project, especially after the troubles that UWIRE was having (UWIRE was founded in 1994 as a print-based content-sharing system devoted to the needs of student journalists.) The service wasn’t available to us for the majority of last year. This project is broader in scope, and I hope that future staffs will not only use it as a news source for the Fiat, but also as a way to get Alfred some international recognition.

Fleming added, “I am pleased that content from the Fiat Lux will be some of the first included among the diverse coverage and editorial styles of college news organizations from around the world.”

Goodman noted that 2010-11 Fiat Lux Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Choi, a junior Communications Studies major from Hong Kong, and Managing Editor Jericho Shackelford, a senior majoring in English and Political Science, who is from Rochester, NY, have also indicated a willingness to become involved in CNI.

Goodman earned a doctorate in mass media/journalism from Michigan State University; a master of arts degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia; and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations/anthropology from California State University-Chico. Her teaching interests include news writing, feature writing, international communications, public relations, mass media and society, and media coverage of women and minorities.

She is currently working on a book begun during spring semester 2010 while on sabbatical. Goodman notes the book is closely linked to WJEC in that it represents the WJEC’s intellectual backbone and contributions to journalism education worldwide.

“Most of my 21 book authors, all journalism education leaders in their respective countries, belong to the WJEC organizations.

“My book project tentatively shares the title of this summer’s WJEC-2 conference: ‘Journalism Education in an Age of Radical Change.’ The book’s chapters focus on not only how journalism education is practiced in different regions of the world, but major issues in journalism today, including entrepreneurial journalism in an age in which old business models are no longer working, worldwide internship/placement challenges (some organizations expect students to pay for these opportunities, which threatens to make the field dangerously elitist), and updating UNESCO’s ideal journalism education curriculum, which was first introduced, with much fanfare, at the first WJEC conference in Singapore two years ago.”