Saturday, February 17, 2007

West End Journal launches in Tuscaloosa

A first-of-its-kind partnership launched in early 2007 between the journalism programs at the University of Alabama and Stillman College. The result of the collaboration is a community newspaper focused on West Tuscaloosa.

“I think Tuscaloosa is progressive enough to have something like this—a publication that’s a cross between the two institutions,” said Amanda Brozana, Stillman College journalism instructor and a doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences.

Brozana and Former Dean Ed Mullins, spearheaded a two-day diversity workshop January 26-27, which was designed to bring students in UA’s depth reporting and beat reporting classes to the Stillman College for direct interaction with their counterparts who are enrolled in journalism courses there.

Most of the UA students who participated in workshop session on topics such as “the News Media and Race” and “Dialogue on Race” stayed overnight in the Stillman College dormitories.

The cross-institutional collaboration continued as each UA student is paired with a “buddy” from Stillman College.

According to Brozana, the goal of the buddy system was to ease the discomfort that often comes when working cross culturally.

Weeks after the January workshop, students have embraced the buddy system.

“You don’t have that awkwardness,” said John Stinson, a UA journalism student from Huntsville, who now is best friends with Gene McWhorter, who in addition to studying journalism at Stillman is on the College’s football team. “When you really look at it, their fears, prejudices and emotions are the same as ours.”

The January workshop culminated in students planning their first edition of The West End Journal, a community tabloid that will distributed to churches, businesses and various locations in the West Tuscaloosa community.

A grant from the Tuscaloosa Higher Education Consortium, which is based at the University of Alabama’s Office of Community Affairs, provided the seed funds for the the West End Journal that will also be supported by advertising the students from both institutions will solicit.

The West End Journal will have as its home base an office in Stillman College’s Cordell Wynn Humanities & Fine Arts Center.

UA journalism student Matt Dowd, is taking charge of the West End Journal’s Web site, which allows him to practice web journalism skills he hopes will eventually land him a job after graduation.

“The best part of this has been the newsroom setting,” said Dowd, a junior from Anniston. “The most useful part of this is the hands-on newsroom style experience.”

Stinson agrees noting how working on The West End Journal has been so different from his other journalism classes.

“I’ve learned the in’s and out’s of what it takes to produce a publication” Stinson said.

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