The fact that the Web gives almost anyone a publishing platform has created significant opportunity for student journalists. Instead of producing class work for an audience of one – the instructor – students now have the opportunity to create their own Web sites and blogs or post to online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.
Just ask Tracy Kennedy. The VCU freshman was covering the Virginia legislature for one of her classes when she noticed that many lawmakers appeared to be surfing the Web during a session. She checked out one of the school’s cameras and shot a story, which she then posted on YouTube.
The story caught the attention of the Washington Post’s Amy Gardner, and she posted a link to the video on her blog. The post elicited comments from one of the legislators included in the piece, as well as a number of additional remarks from readers. Later that day, the Virginia Politics blog expanded on the reaction from legislators who were critical of Kennedy’s reporting. The local CBS affiliate in Richmond also produced a story about the impact of Kennedy’s work in which she told the station that she was “surprised” by all the attention.
In an email, Kennedy said she wishes some of the critics had read the text-based article she wrote to accompany the video, and said she’s proud of work.
I only wish that I had included a note at the end of the video clarifying some facts about my report, like that all but one of the delegates refused to comment on my story and that those pictures were taken on a break-less Ash Wednesday session, but otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing if I could.
Whatever you think of her story, Kennedy is getting a feel for the power of journalism that just couldn’t be replicated in the classroom alone.
At first, I wasn’t sure whether or not I had the mettle to be a journalist and I had a paralyzing fear that I wouldn’t be able to get a job after graduation. Since the delegates report, I’ve become much more confident in my ability to withstand criticism, and I’ve even received several internship offers. I still have a lot to learn before I can become a better journalist, but I’m definitely up to the challenge.