Visiting young journalists get real-world lessons in Aurora

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Weekly newspapering took on a fresh perspective Friday as Aurora hosted a bright young group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students seeking a real-world experience in community journalism.
It was a refreshing day in the newsroom to be able to share what small-town journalism looks like, and also to get a glimpse of the energy and enthusiasm a budding new crop of potential journalists will soon bring to the work world.
The fact that UNL J-School professor Jill Martin selected the News-Register as one of the host newspapers for this project was in itself a feather in the cap for our community. Martin wanted her students to have a real boots-on-the-ground type experience with interesting interviews lined up and ready to go, and I assured her that there are in fact a lot of fascinating stories to tell here in Hamilton County. A special thanks to local residents who agreed to participate in this project, sharing their stories and personal perspective with complete strangers.
So on Friday, young Husker journalists spread out in Aurora to conduct interviews, take photographs and connect with their sources, much like they would as a full-time member of the News-Register staff. I have to say I was impressed with their professionalism, as well as their engaging attitude. This clearly wasn’t just another assignment to check off the list, as shared in feedback below, but rather an opportunity to dive head first into an interview hoping to capture and share someone’s story.
“Being able to come out to Aurora and report for your weekly newspaper was a nice change of pace from simply learning how to report and write stories in the classroom and around campus,” wrote Cassandra Kostal of Gretna. “I believe going out into a community and knowing that we’ll be writing stories that will truly mean something to people in Aurora will prove to be a valuable experience.”
The students and ANR news staff had some lively discussion at the end of the day about how the news business has changed in the past few years, and how important it is that newspapers do the hard work that few other media outlets are willing or able to do. Sitting through meetings, gathering facts and telling both sides of the story on local issues of the day matters, perhaps today more than ever. That, in essence, is what community journalism is all about.
ANR readers will see the end results of this project soon as each of the 10 visiting students are writing stories to be published in the weeks ahead. We look forward to sharing their work, and your local stories.
Kurt Johnson

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