Of the many innovative courses offered at Marist, one of the most enjoyable and useful ones that I have taken here is COM 322: Newswriting. Consisting of roughly 20 students, the purpose of this course is to simulate an actual newsroom by running an online publication called The Red Fox Report.
Students in the class are treated like professional writers by being asked to meet weekly deadlines, contribute to pitch meetings, and write articles on a variety of topics relevant to the Marist community. The site covers on-campus stories, off-campus stories, lifestyle stories, and sports stories. Students can also write about their favorite under the radar spots around the Hudson Valley for the weekly “Hidden Gem” article; past spots have included great restaurants, unique study spots, top bars and trendy coffee shops.
Further adding to the real-world experience, members of the class rotate as weekly editors. Their duties include overseeing pitch meetings, choosing the story run-down for the week, and proofreading peers’ work.
By the end of the semester, students will not only have this valuable experience, but a professional portfolio consisting of numerous articles.
“I love the fact that we are encouraged to go out and seek stories, and that we aren’t just handed the ideas,” said Adriana Belmonte, a junior enrolled in the class. “I’ve really enjoyed talking to different types of people and putting stories together. Writing is such a passion of mine and being able to combine it with the skills I’ve learned in this class has helped improve my abilities as a journalist.”
Newswriting can be taken as one of the core journalism courses, or as an upper-level communications elective. The course, now in its third year, was developed by Dr. Kevin Lerner, a journalism professor at Marist since 2009.
One of my favorite aspects of the class is the freedom Dr. Lerner gives us to write. We are allowed to cover any Marist-relevant story that interests us, inspires us, or even intimidates us.
For example, the first article I wrote for the site dealt with the closure of a local pet shop which Marist students used to frequent. Over the summer, the owner of the pet shop was charged with three counts of animal cruelty and, due to fervent local protests, the shop was finally forced to shut down. Admittedly, the story was a bit intimidating at first—I had never before written a crime-related piece—but I was passionate about shedding light on the issue and Dr. Lerner’s unmitigated support was enough for me to follow through on the piece.
“I like the news room atmosphere mimicked in Newswriting,” said Jenna Kunze, a senior in the class. “Pitching ideas, receiving feedback from classmates and producing articles nearly every week feels more professional than it does academic.”
With his vast journalistic experience and love of the field, Dr. Lerner has created a class that allows students to get practical experience in a fun, exciting environment.
If you have any questions about the course or about the Communications Department in general, feel free to contact me at Derek.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit their webpage here.