Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stillman, UA Students Focus on West Tuscaloosa

A few days have passed, but the enthusiasm hasn't waned about a new community journalism effort in the city of Tuscaloosa. Specifically, the focus of this venture is the West side of Tuscaloosa, where stories are often overlooked.

This past weekend, about 50 students from the University of Alabama and Stillman College participated in a two-day Diversity Weekend Workshop at Stillman's Wynn Center.

Most observers would agree the gathering was unprecedented in both the number of students from both campuses who participated and the nature of the gathering.

It was not only about learning about covering news in a cross-cultural setting, but melding the cultures of a large traditionally state institution and a private historically black college with students from all over the country.

The difference in the student bodies was readily apparent on Friday evening as UA Professor Samantha Briggs facilitated a kick-off session on our assumptions about race.

We each had to write down jokes, stereotypes and adjectives used to describe blacks and whites. I learned some new ones while at the same time talked about an issue that's not so easy to discuss in a cross-cultural or interracial setting.

Instead of the polite discussions ending and students going their separate ways, the University of Alabama students stayed overnight Friday on the Stillman campus.

By the end of the session on Saturday, students from both institutions had picked a name for the new West Tuscaloosa newspaper that will debut in less than a month.

Look for stories about West Tuscaloosa in The West End Journal, a project to be produced by three journalism classes at Stillman and two at the University.

A special thanks to Luke Buckley from TUSK Magazine for taking the photos from the event.


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