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Students to cover news leaders’ news at national conference

MTSU students will be covering the news for the people who cover the news this week as they provide exclusive stories, photos, audio and video for the Associated Press Media Editors national conference in Nashville Sept. 19-21.

Student journalists from the College of Mass Communication will generate all news content for the APME blog at http://apmeblog.blogspot.com as well as a daily video report and a special 24-page tabloid summing up the conference.

Senior Becca Andrews of Bells, Tenn., editor-in-chief of MTSU’s independent student newspaper Sidelines, is coordinating all news coverage for APME. Senior Michelle Potts of Franklin, Tenn., news director of the student-run TV station, MT10-HD, will lead video coverage.

All content will flow through MTSU’s new Center for Innovation in Media, which houses operations for all student media outlets as well as WMOT 89.5FM, the university’s 100,000-watt public radio station.

Becca Andrews

“I don’t see much difference at all in this and what we do every day,” Andrews said after discussing coverage plans with colleagues last week. “It will be a bit more fast-paced, but we’ll be doing as much as we can in advance to be ready for breaking news, too.”

Sidelines covers breaking campus news around the clock at its website, www.mtsusidelines.com, and also publishes a weekly print tabloid. MT10-HD presents daily news and original programming that’s broadcast locally on Rutherford Country Comcast Channel 10 and online at www.mt10tv.com.

“We do this regularly, but at a little slower pace because we’re teaching students, too,” said Potts. “On Thursday alone, we’ll have 11 different shoots and a four- to five-minute ‘day in review’ broadcast, as well as podcasts. Can we do it all? Sure. Just like the real world.”

Both Potts and Andrews are veteran young journalists with work experience in industry newsrooms as well as high-school and university ones. They’ve worked together before on news projects; in fact, the APME recognized the Center for Innovation in Media earlier this year for its efforts to converge MTSU student media and foster collaboration across media platforms.

That national recognition for MTSU, in the form of an honorable mention in the “Innovator of the Year for College Students” category in APME’s 2012 Journalism Excellence Awards, will be part of a presentation during this week’s conference.

Michelle Potts

“This news project is an outstanding opportunity for our students to cover the conference and write profiles on its participants and get more experience working across media platforms,” said Dr. Roy Moore, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, which houses the Center for Innovation in Media.

“They’re doing this on top of their regular (news) assignments and classes. We’re very fortunate, too, that most of the staffers have prior experience, not only with student media but with professional media as well. It’s a great opportunity to showcase their skills and talents. They won’t just be networking at a conference; they’ll actually be showing what they can do.”

APME is an association of editors at newspapers, broadcast outlets and journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada. It works closely with The Associated Press to foster journalism excellence.

“APME always reaches out to student journalists to cover our conferences, and we’re thrilled that MTSU students intend to raise the bar on how it’s done,” said APME President Bob Heisse, executive editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill.

The Nashville conference, which is expected to draw 150 of the top media editors from across the country, is not only getting coverage of APME news. It’s also giving students from MTSU’s College of Mass Communication a chance to show off their skills for an audience that hires interns and entry-level reporters, photographer, videographers, copy editors and designers.

“We really want to create a killer multimedia product and tabloid,” Andrews said, “particularly since this is also showing the members what we can do. I want my staff to get as much experience out of this as possible; most of them are seniors, so it’s very important to take advantage of an opportunity like this to showcase our work.”

“Basically, I told my crew, ‘I know what you’re capable of. Prove to everybody else what you prove to me every day,’” Potts added. “Then we’ll just be trying to figure out when we can get some sleep.”

— Gina E. Fann (Gina.Fann@mtsu.edu)

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