Knight School of Communication Launches Student-Run News Service
The newly formed service supplies news content to multiple news organizations in the Queen City
by Keith Pierce
A single mom describes what it's like to work from home and manage two children under the age of four. A Plaza Midwood nail salon survives COVID-19. An African American ballet dancer is elated over tights and shoes that match her skin color. These are just a few of the stories that the newly formed Queens Knight School of Communication News Service has provided to Charlotte media outlets.
Launched in February, the service supplies news content to multiple news organizations in the Queen City, as it helps these media outlets report local stories they would cover if they had additional resources. In addition, it offers a weekly news advisory archived on queens-chronicle.com with a goal to produce five pieces monthly — 80 percent text, 20 percent video, and it helps power the campus online newspaper, student broadcasting and podcasting, and courses on content generation.
However, perhaps the most exciting aspect about the news service is how it offers students a realistic learning environment where they interact with top editors to discuss gaps in staff coverage that the service can fill. Several members of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative have agreed to participate and have already begun to publish content by Queens students. According to Bob Page, director of digital projects and advisor to student media in the Knight School of Communication, members of the collaborative are eager to publish more work and have agreed to collaborate on a student-based news service for Charlotte.
"The Queens University News Service is a great new asset for Charlotte newsrooms," said Jennifer Lang, senior editor, digital news and product at WFAE. "By subscribing to this news service, WFAE can give our audience additional perspectives and coverage of news and events that we might not have had without the work of these student journalists."
"In the past, we've created international programs that motivate Queens students to tell stories about communities — Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics, for example," Page explained. "The news service motivates students to tell great stories about their own community every day, every year. And when they see their first story published in professional media, a light goes on for them, and they realize how a story can make a contribution."
For example, a piece by journalism and digital media major Jeannette Muhammad ’22 profiled Hadia Mubarak, assistant professor of philosophy of religion, on what it's like to be Muslim and female. "As a student journalist, it has been greatly impactful to work with knowledgeable professors and create meaningful stories for the Charlotte community," said Muhammad. "I definitely feel my stories have become much stronger through the work I'm doing with the news service."
A video story about Charlotte Ballet dancer Raven Barkley written and produced by biology major Makhaila Anderson '22 was recently published by WFAE.org as well as Qcitymetro, a start-up news website focused on the African-American community. "I feel so grateful to be a part of the news service at Queens because I've been given the opportunity to push myself and share my work with more people than ever before," Anderson said.
Well before the pandemic, the digital age launched a greater number of national and highly specialized news sources that diminished the reach of local news and forced newsrooms to cut staff. Newspapers, in particular, have struggled to grow a digital audience, causing advertising dollars to disappear, thus shrinking the number of journalists to cover stories. Participants in the Queens Knight School of Communication News Service hope to help fill those holes.
"While Charlotte is the largest city in the Carolinas, both legacy and start-up media face disturbing gaps in news coverage. Neglected topics include low-income neighborhoods, nonprofits, faith communities and the arts,” said Page. “As we emerge from the pandemic, it's going to be so much fun for students to get out into the community and tell these stories in a city that is a top 25 Nielsen media market, and an ideal lab for students to tell stories."