A new project in the Journalism department is up and running, and students have been busy putting their final projects together in the nation’s first community-based reporting class.
Sixteen undergraduate and three graduate students enrolled in this new course directed by Associate Professor Thomas Petner at the University’s Center City campus. Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab (MURL) was designed to be the cornerstone of the Journalism department in the near future.
“MURL is about going into neighborhoods [and] underserved communities in Philadelphia and providing news,” Petner said. “The mission is to tell the stories that represent the diverse voices of the multicultural and multinational Philadelphia neighborhoods.”
Students are required to complete a group project which includes a video package, a print story and an online story. The importance of understanding three different media platforms has been emphasized in the class as a future direction of the industry.
“It gives students in the Journalism department a chance to get hands-on experiences on going out into the communities, doing stories [and] turning them into broadcast pieces, print pieces and online components,” Petner said. “The purpose of the course is to get back the community to where [the university] has started, serving the communities in Philadelphia.”
Students have been covering Hunting Park, a neighborhood in North Philadelphia. The area was chosen by the Journalism department and the College of Liberal Arts’ Center for Internships & Career Development.
“This is all part of the Journalism department’s plan to divide Philadelphia into discrete neighborhoods, and then service them with topical information and ‘service news’ from their community to the people who seek to maintain a livable community,” Petner said.
Students have found a topic for their final project by going to the community and gathering materials in the field as well as researching and interviewing professionals during and outside of class time.
“I really like this class,” junior Journalism major Jayne Laychak said. “It gives me opportunities to use skills I’ve been learning while I’m at Temple and actually take them out into the field and interview people. I feel like I’m a real journalist.”
The project is funded by an Improving Technology at Colleges and Universities grant from the state Department of Education and the university Department of Journalism.
The stories completed by students will be distributed to the community through WHYY-TV’s “datacasting” project, which is available at community centers in the area. The MURL newsroom will eventually be accessible for students 24 hours a day with Associated Press wire feeds.
In addition to MURL, two capstone courses in journalism – Investigative Reporting and Broadcast News Producing – have been offered at the Center City newsroom.
Sae Komura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.