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(Boston) — Sixty-seven Boston University journalism students have created a full-service news agency to cover the 2004 Democratic National Convention in what is being called the “ultimate practicum in political reporting.” Along with classroom work, they are producing coverage for print, photo, and TV clients around the nation, and maintaining a streaming-video Web site documenting Boston’s first political convention.
Co-sponsored by BU’s College of Communication and BU Summer Term, the practicum is built around four separate four-credit courses: political reporting; news and event photography; multimedia publishing, including television; and photo editing and design. The 20 graduate and 47 undergraduate students — including 16 from colleges other than BU — meet twice weekly in their respective classes and, together, once a week to cover a forum of politicians, pundits, and reporters. As a team they will cover the July 26-29 convention using rotating credentials.
Overseen by Journalism Department Chairman Robert Zelnick, a longtime ABC News correspondent, the BU faculty includes prominent media veterans like former ABC News executive William Lord, who directs the online journalism program, and former Boston Globe reporters and Pulitzer Prize finalists Mitch Zuckoff and Richard Lehr.
Producing material to bolster their professional clip portfolios, reporting students are providing copy through the Washington, D.C.-based States News Service to smaller newspapers unable to staff the convention. Broadcast students are videotaping stories and delegate interviews for Hearst-Argyle television stations in California, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Arkansas. Photojournalism students are supplying pictures to accompany the States News Service’s localized stories, and to the New York-based Gamma Press photo agency as part of its convention coverage for clients worldwide.
Collectively, the students are providing stories and pictures for a Web site — http://onthednc.bu.edu — developed and maintained by the multimedia students. It includes live streaming video of the forums, which feature 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis and 2000 vice presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), among others. All Web content is available to media outlets copyright free. Photojournalism Professor Peter Smith said this will become a permanent site where BU students can post photos for news outlets to use for free in return for clips when published.
The group also is publishing a convention-related newspaper, circulation 5,000, for the Boston University community.
“This is the ultimate practicum in political reporting that starts with the classic blend of classroom instruction and field experience to both teach students and help them build portfolios,” said Zelnick. “The bonus is a huge dose of professional work on deadline, and the rare commodity of credentials to cover a national political convention.”
Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. The College of Communication has more than 2,500 students enrolled in its Departments of Journalism, Film and Television, and Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations.