Advice on Starting a Campus Journalism Club

Hi there,

Great question. I haven’t been in a journalism club per say, but I’ve definitely planned classroom-style discussions on journalism for the staff of publications I’ve been involved with in the past.

Discussion based meetings are always the best. That’s a staple. The rest really depends on how often you meet. If once a week, you could set up a monthly schedule of something different each week.

Say, week 1 you pick an article from the FJP, Poynter, Nieman, CJR (or any of the other many, many great resources out there) and have someone present its salient points. Then breakout into discussion groups. If you have enough people, I’d even pick a topic instead of an article (ie: “citizen journalism”) and mine the tags on tumblr or elsewhere to pick out a few sources on said topic. Video is always a good idea in the classroom too, so you could start by showing a video, talking about it, and then split into groups to look at other articles on the same topic.

Week 2, you could work on skills, because really, that’s what “future journalists” need to be honing 24/7. Do workshops, use NewsU or any of the other free tutorials out there and spend a day on aggregation, or social media, or ethical photo editing, or how to get hold of public documents.

Week 3, you could study long form, which is one of my favorite classroom discussion activities. Columbia J-School has their 50 greats online, and we’ve posted before on good longform. Read before the meeting, break it down during the meeting. My reporting professor at Columbia told us on day 1 that the paper is our textbook. So go through the paper, through magazines, through archives, and breakdown the structure of well-written stories so you know exactly how it was done. Invite a guest lecturer.

Week 4, you could make something. Cull the best ideas from what you did that month and Storify it. Inspire other students at other schools! Have a blog for the club and let people post content throughout the month. Gather some data. Make a little multimedia piece about how students on campus consume news. Set up a free class on how students can get in on better and more varied sources.

You could also plan campus-wide discussions on current affairs and as a team, select the best and worst reporting and share why it’s the best and worst. Not enough ‘non-journalism’ people think about the quality of the reporting the encounter (except of course…to lament on the state of affairs, as young people love to do). Your club could be an incredible resource for the larger community.

You could also always set up a year long project for yourselves. Have any programmers on board? Designers? You must have different departments. Recruit some techies for the club. Pester them to teach you what they know. Study some great interactive visualizations, do some reporting (a college campus has a wealth of data to be collected) and visualize it.

Those are just some ideas! Good luck and keep us posted on what you do! If you need help finding resources on anything specific, message away. —Jihii


From Future Journalism Project Producers and Editors.