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School to partner with media organizations to offer public affairs reporting opportunities to students

Posted by Robert Stewart

(September 6, 2011) — In a time of shrinking resources and increased demand for watchdog reporting, the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University has established a program to enhance the education its students receive in public affairs journalism.

With the start of this school year, the college is launching the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau, to be based in Columbus, Ohio’s capital city.

Students enrolled in the fellowship will receive course credit and work as interns at The Columbus Dispatch, where their reports will be published in The Dispatch or on Dispatch.com, and will be available to the Associated Press and members of the Ohio News Organization, which is composed of the eight largest newspapers in Ohio. Students will experience multimedia reporting, and their reports also will be available to broadcast media as well as Ohio college media outlets.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about and cover government at all levels state, county and city including legislative initiatives, policy matters and politics, as well as local, state and national election campaigns. The students will work with Dispatch editors and veteran reporters.

“We see this as a natural fit within our award-winning Public Affairs reporting team and our intern program, which is one of the largest and most progressive programs in the country among large newspapers,” said Dispatch Editor Benjamin J. Marrison. “We are excited about working with Ohio University to establish and grow the college public-affairs program in Columbus.”

Tom Suddes, E.W. Scripps Journalism faculty member, will oversee and administer the program. Suddes was a Statehouse reporter for The Plain Dealer for 17 years, is a member of The Plain Dealer’s editorial board, and writes a column on state politics published in The Plain Dealer, The Dispatch and the Dayton Daily News.

“We are excited to have Tom spearheading this project,” said Robert Stewart, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. “This initiative fills a need we have in the state for more coverage of our Statehouse.”

Suddes, who earned a PhD at the Scripps College of Communication, will meet with and mentor students enrolled in the Statehouse program, serve as a resource for news contacts and data, and connect students with Statehouse newsmakers.

Scholarship support for students in the program will be provided by The Dispatch and the Scripps Howard Foundation, based in Cincinnati.

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with these two fine institutions,” said Mike Philipps, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation, the corporate philanthropy of The E.W. Scripps Company. “Students will receive valuable professional experience, and news consumers throughout the state will be the ultimate beneficiaries.”

The interim dean of the Scripps College of Communication, Scott Titsworth, said that the new initiative reflects the college’s overall goals. “As a statewide Center of Excellence in Social and Cultural Transformation, the Scripps College is committed to actively promoting public dialogue and engagement.”

For the first year, Stewart said that program will be limited to two students per term working out of The Dispatch offices, across the street from the Statehouse. Stewart said the goal is to expand the program over the next three years. “We hope to have as many as 10 students per semester by year three of this program, as well as have several more media partners.” Journalism students from other universities will be able to apply for the program as well, according to Stewart.

[NOTE: see article from The Post, 9/7/11]