Tips for HBCU Student Journalists Without Campus Media
College and university students need outlets to promote and publish their works. This is especially true of mass communication and/or journalism students who face a field of interdisciplinary skill, including sedentary storytellers’ fear: multimedia.
At the Black College Communication Association Student News Media Conference in spring, students from various HBCUs expressed the challenges that they faced with their campuses’ administrations and Student Government Associations.
They also revealed that some student journalists are at a standstill because their schools do not have radio, television and/or newspaper outlets for students to hone their skills.
The conversation could easily steer into a critique of why some schools have these outlets and others do not. While conversing about the status of these schools and their ability to provide for students is healthy, for students who want to become published and/or gain experience in the interim, there are options.
Black College Communication Association Chair Dr. Valerie White shared possibilities.
“Students may take advantage of the service offered by Black College Wire or they may freelance to get published wherever they can,” White said.
(Black College Wire representatives offered to publish student journalists whose schools don’t have media outlets.)
“Students can also start their own online blogs through free or low-cost web services. However, news stories are most important to secure internships and jobs.”
Beat writing, which tends to focus on specific content areas, was not cautioned against, but versatility was encouraged.
“Students need to make sure the stories are of interest to a national audience and should submit stories in a timely manner,” White said.
The practice of constant writing was also recommended.
“I suggest that these students write as often as possible, at least weekly. They should challenge themselves to submit the story the day it happens usually within two hours for spot news and as soon as possible for issue-oriented stories,” White said.
HBCU Digest Founding Editor Jarrett Carter Sr. shared publication requirements and also offered insight for student journalists.
HBCU Digest will publish student journalists from HBCUs given that the students submit three clips of published work for academic review to email@example.com. Preference is given to students who submit clips along with a resume and personal statement not exceeding 500 words.
Carter emphasized the power of individual content that can be produced, directed and distributed via smart phones.
“What must happen for students of color is for more of us to begin thinking constantly with media in mind,” he said.
With organizations like Black College Wire and HBCU Digest offering to aid student journalists, the onus shifts and it becomes a matter of personal pursuit of publication.
Both sites redistribute news and posts from HBCUs.
While finding homes for content remains a concern, journalistic integrity and cultural competence must remain the focus.
“As racial and ethnic rhetoric increase and frame perceptions on black culture, achievement and progress, it is critical that we have capable and responsible members of our culture sharing our stories,” Carter said.
“We must have more journalists, more bloggers, more podcasters and filmmakers working to tell our stories for better and for worse,” he said.
“If we are not successful in creating a new generation of storytellers, much of how we are viewed in popular culture will be left to people who aren’t from our communities, haven’t lived our experiences, and don’t know the full thrust of our history. And by the way – people who don’t know who we are can look exactly like us; don’t be fooled.”
“I encourage all HBCU students to read the news from many different sources daily. Become knowledgeable about things happening around you. Learn to write to inform your people. Become comfortable with the processes of asking questions and cultivating relationships,” Carter said.
“Our culture needs more great people willing to tell our real stories, and the more immersed students become in sharing these stories, the greater chance we will have of being honestly portrayed and represented in media, ” Carter continued.
With regard to student opportunities beyond publication, White had this to say, “I encourage students to explore outside of traditional newspapers for internships and work experience.
“Almost any profession needs writers to tell their stories. Students who don’t have internships should volunteer with organizations and network. But most importantly, students should make their school media the best possible through commitment, hard work and excellence.”
Find Black College Wire on Facebook and visit hbcudigest.com to make additional inquiries.