The UMaine Telegraph is the product of 29 students in CMJ 111 “Introduction to Journalism” course which is being offered for the first time at the University of Maine. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the profession and practice of journalism. Students spent the first third of the semester developing news media literacy and learning the ins-and-outs of the profession. They have subsequently transitioned to practicing journalism. They have each covered a “scheduled event” (including political rallies of Donald Trump and Chelsea Clinton) and produced a story. But now they’re undertaking a monumentally more difficult project—to report on a presidential election and produce both an online and print newspaper on deadline.
With only two weeks of preparation, these students have created a reporting, editing, and layout structure that replicates that of a daily paper. We have an editor in chief, a managing editor, and eight section editors including a campus, state, national, features, op/ed, photo, copy, and design. Within each section is a team of reporters that will cover events ranging from Republican and Democrat election night parties to the effects that voting at the Field House will have on the university community. They’ll report from the Cross Insurance Center, the New Balance Field House, all across campus, and at community forum events in Bangor. They’re going to monitor national trends and how the news media is covering them. They’re going to look at how the election has affected classroom dynamics. They’re going to shadow first time voters. They’re following all the ballot initiatives. They’re writing columns, editorials, and long features.
Students will be writing their stories on location. Back on campus a collection of editors will read and edit the stories as they come in, and then other students will layout the stories and photos for both print and online versions. Newspaper people joke that putting out a paper is “the daily miracle” because of all the moving parts. The fact that this class is going to pull off this delicate an operation of such scale and scope with students, most of whom are in their ninth week of college, is truly remarkable.
Assistant Professor & CLAS-Honors Preceptor of Journalism
Department of Communication and Journalism & Honors College
University of Maine