Southeast's student-run paper being overhauled

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When Southeast Missouri State University students return to campus this month they will see a much different student-run newspaper.

The Arrow, formerly known as the Capaha Arrow, is going through an overhaul, the result of a new partnership that has developed between the university and Rust Communications, the parent company of the Southeast Missourian. The Southeast Missourian entered into a contractual agreement with the university and will provide oversight of the print publication as well as a more robust student-produced news website.

"This is a really unique opportunity for us and for the Southeast Missourian," said Dr. Ken Dobbins, president of the university. "The news/journalism profession is changing so rampantly. We were looking for someone that could help us move to that next level and get our students prepared for what they are really going to experience once they graduate."

Dobbins said the goal in forming this relationship is that students will progress from reporters to managers to editors over several semesters.

Part of that progression, once the curriculum is fully implemented in 2012, will be the addition of a capstone multimedia management course under the guidance of professionals at Rust Communications where students will be responsible for managing a range of news products, including print, online, mobile, video and radio.

"Our students are going to be able to work with the Missourian staff and learn how things are done in the real world," Dobbins said. "Experiential learning is very important to us. This is the ultimate."

There is some precedent for universities partnering with existing media companies, such as AOL's Patch, a news website that creates profiles with original and submitted content for towns across America. Patch has recently teamed up with several journalism schools, but this partnership, according to Southeast Missourian publisher Jon K. Rust, is "more integrated."

"The mass media faculty for much of the last year were engaged in the comprehensive reorganization of their curriculum, especially seeking to break down the silos between traditional media disciplines," Rust said. "They really did an excellent job identifying what students need to learn to be prepared for today's changing, modern media landscape. What this partnership does is coordinate practical experience through leading-edge student media with lessons to be studied in the classroom."

Redesigned, in color

Initially, under the new arrangement, the Arrow will print 33 times a year, up from 25, and be available Wednesdays. The new product has been redesigned and will be printed in color. The website, which has not been assigned a URL yet, will feature updates and breaking news reported by students on the Arrow staff.

"In this partnership, Rust Communications will be managing the work flow of student news media, something we're calling Arrow Digital," Rust said. "This includes the Arrow and its website, new mobile platforms to be launched, audio and video news for digital products, and eventually news packages for student radio and TV."

Rust said the university has long provided an important learning resource to students by producing the Arrow, but the publication has lost money in recent years.

The new arrangement will cap the university's investment and put the financial risk on Rust Communications. Should Rust Communications grow the product over a base level, both entities will benefit through a revenue share agreement.

"This new partnership with the Missourian will be an excellent opportunity for our students," said Tammy Baldwin, chairwoman of the Department of Mass Media at Southeast. "We are looking forward to working on this and hopefully being a great experience for everybody involved."

A four-person Southeast Missourian team will be working directly with students, led by Southeast Missourian general manager Mark Kneer. Gera LeGrand will oversee advertising, and Brad Hollerbach will provide technical support. Primary content adviser will be Rachel Crader, who will maintain her role as editor of semoball.com.

"The Arrow will remain student-run with student editors and reporters making news decisions and producing content, but I will be there to provide them with direction and help when needed, as well as ensure quality," Crader said.

Arrow editor Dan Fox, a senior journalism major from St. Louis, sees the new partnership between the university and Rust Communications as a positive move.

"I'm very happy that we're going to finally be able to print in full color, and I'm also very excited about the opportunity that the partnership is going to give all my writers," Fox said. "Obviously, they're going to benefit a lot more from this than they would have from the old arrangement, having such a close working relationship with Rust Communications."

lpresson@semissourian.com

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