University journalism school publications can fill local news gaps and enable students to publish important stories. But their growth is still impeded by financial, institutional and other challenges, according to a panel discussion held last month.

The panel was streamed on Zoom on Nov. 18 and featured professional journalists and journalism professors from around the country.

It was one of 16 events around the globe, organized by the World Journalism Education Council and UNESCO. The events have tackled issues including teaching students to cover misinformation, climate change or bridging the gap between newsrooms and classrooms.

The panel stressed the challenges student journalists face — from finding sources to finding jobs after graduation. They also discussed the burden that publishing student work puts on instructors.

Sally Haney the chair of journalism and broadcasting at Mount Royal University, says that most university assignments by students are not public-facing as they are in her programs.

“The responsibility ー editorial, legal, ethical, for both students and faculty is super heavy,” Haney says.

Even though journalism students aren’t always able to publish for magazines or newspapers outside of their university, they still have the opportunity for a platform by getting their work published through their institutions.

Terra Tailleur, an online news and multimedia specialist at the University of King’s College, said “students felt empowered, it helped them think of themselves as professional journalists and not as just students.”

Tailleur and her colleague Brian Daly help publish The Signal, which covers news and current affairs in Halifax, N.S.

Transition to professional newsrooms

In some programs, students have the opportunity to do paid work for their school publications as part of their program’s internship requirement. That work as well as class work helps students build their portfolions

“In our program, students have a wonderful opportunity to work with faculty editors to have their stories published,” says McLean. “The tools at students’ disposal these days — both editorial and publishing tools — are incredible and offer a range of storytelling opportunities.” 

McLean also says that there are many challenges that journalism students face, but there’s always an opportunity to take advantage of it, especially in the digital age we are in now.

“Student journalists face a number of challenges. One persistent challenge is finding sources and having those sources take student journalism seriously when it’s practiced off campus,” says McLean. “One of the great things about journalism is there’s no badge you earn that says you can practice now. As soon as they’re ready, students can be out in the field, learning the craft.” 

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Hajar Al Khouzaii is the Lead Editor of the Calgary Journal. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Calgary majoring in Political Science and minoring in Philosophy. Hajar is scheduled...