Reznet Brings Journalism to Tribal Colleges

Aug 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-1: Honoring Our Students, Tribal College News

The University of Montana School of Journalism has launched a new online newspaper to encourage American Indian student journalists. “It is intended to be the school newspaper for those tribal colleges without a newspaper,” according to Denny McAuliffe, the project director. He also hopes the newspaper will become an important and crowded place for Native students to gather on the internet. The electronic newspaper’s first edition was expected online by early June at <www.reznetnews.org>.

The students transmit the stories and photos via email. Reznet hires the students around the country as reporters and pays them $50 a story to cover their tribal communities or colleges. Some of the reporters also received digital cameras. In addition to fees for stories, the “reznet” reporters will receive college credit for their work, making the project the first distance-learning journalism course available to tribal colleges.

Reznet became a reality early this year when the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation funded McAuliffe’s longtime idea with a $250,000, two-year grant to the University of Montana School of Journalism. McAuliffe, enrolled in Oklahoma’s Osage tribe, is the University of Montana’s Native American journalist in residence.

McAuliffe recruited students at the second annual American Indian Journalism Institute (AIJI), “a journalism boot camp for Native Americans,” as he calls it. The summer institute at the University of South Dakota trains American Indian students in a three-week course that covers reporting, editing, and photography. The Freedom Forum, a foundation dedicated to diversity in newsrooms, funds the institute.

McAuliffe said he plans to continue working closely with the institute and with the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) to recruit and place “reznet” reporters. Untrained reporters would be steered to AIJI and NAJA’s Native Voice, the annual conference newspaper produced by college students. Graduates of AIJI and Native Voice would be hired for “reznet” so they could collect enough clips to land internships–and eventually jobs–at daily or tribal newspapers. McAuliffe also plans to visit tribal colleges around the nation about once a month to recruit interested students.

The actual Reznet web site will reside in Oakland, CA, at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, a non-profit corporation working to expand opportunities for minorities in journalism.

Anyone interested in working for “reznet” or in obtaining more information should call McAuliffe at (406) 243-2191, or email him at <mcauliff@selway.umt.edu>.

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