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June 20, 2011, noon

Bob Calo: What football pep talks taught hyperlocal reporters

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its summer 2011 issue, “Links That Bind Us,” which focuses on the role community plays in journalism. We’re highlighting a few entries that connect with subjects we follow at the Lab, but go read the whole issue. In this piece, Bob Calo writes about his experience turning j-school students into hyperlocal reporters.

Nieman Reports summer 2011 coverWe are experiencing a sea change in how students at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, learn about reporting. Three years ago we tossed out the first-semester intensive reporting requirement and replaced it with the work that goes into producing three hyperlocal websites. Funded in part by a Ford Foundation grant to report on underserved communities near our campus, these websites — covering San Francisco’s Mission District, North Oakland, and Richmond — synthesize writing and reporting with cross- platform media production and community service.

These students also learn quickly what journalism partnerships mean and how they work. Not only does their reporting appear on one of these three hyperlocal sites, but it sometimes finds its way onto SFGate, the San Francisco Chronicle’s online vehicle; the nonprofit Bay Citizen, an independent news site about civic and community issues in the Bay Area; and the regional edition of The New York Times. This experience is proving to be a valuable entry point for figuring out what connects people to journalism and journalism to people.

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POSTED     June 20, 2011, noon
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