A successful student-professional partnership in Oregon

While carousing through my twitter feed yesterday, I found an extremely interesting story from the Oregon Daily Emerald, the student newspaper in Eugene, Oregon. The story details former University of Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny, who invested money in several apartment complexes near the university’s newly built basketball arena. It’s a great read, but what interested me more was the story is a joint partnership between the Emerald and The Oregonian, a professional newspaper in Eugene. The story was prefaced by an editor’s note, which reads,

This story was a joint reporting project by Jeff Manning of The Oregonian and Deborah Bloom of the Oregon Daily Emerald. This is the start of an ongoing effort by the Emerald to partner with professional newsrooms to produce public-interest journalism that matters to Oregonians.

Interested, I emailed Deborah, a writer at the Emerald and recent graduate of the University of Oregon, about how working with another newspaper proved beneficial. Questions and answers are below:

(Nate Makuch/Oregon Daily Emerald)

1. How did the idea for this story come about? How long did you and Jeff work on it?
It is well established in Eugene’s development community that Courtside and Skybox are referred to as “Kilkenny’s project.” So after talks with the Oregon Daily Emerald editor as well as the editor at the Oregon, we decided to do some digging and try to do a story on it. My publisher, Ryan Frank, is a former Oregonian employee and had this idea to do a cooperative partnership between the ODE and the Oregonian, and I just happened to be the case study.
2. What kind of benefits did working with the Oregonian give you? Did yourself and/or the Emerald offer any specific advantages to the Oregonian?
Working with Jeff Manning—likely one of the best investigative reporters at the Oregonian—taught me a lot about journalism: how to research public records and file requests, what kind of sources to seek out, how to best interview people, how to write a story so comprehensively. I also had the privilege of meeting many reporters at the Oregonian, which was a good networking opportunity for me. It was honestly such an amazing experience, getting to know Jeff and learning from him. I believe I learned more in that month of digging than I have ever learned in a classroom.
3. How important do you consider this project to be in regards to the mission of the Emerald? What kind of response have you received since the story was published?
It’s an important project in that it delves much deeper into the massive development that is occurring on our campus, and explains how one leads to another. I’ve received some very positive responses, and some negative responses. Some believe that the story did too much to insinuate wrongdoing by Kilkenny, but I believe we were as balanced as possible in this coverage.
Deborah’s comments really got me thinking about how mind-numbingly beneficial it is for student newspapers and professional organizations to work together. For students, it gives them an opportunity to work in a professional environment and on important stories that require more resources than a student newspaper has at it’s disposal. For professional organizations, the benefits include eager & hardworking students, who provide an alternative and more in-depth source of knowledge, especially for issues that affect collegiate campuses and students.
I’ll be watching the Emerald in the future for similar stories, as this is one step that student organizations can take to begin reporting on things that have a tangible impact on their communities. Most student journalists that I know often complain of a lack respect and seriousness that goes into their product–here’s one way to fix it.
I’d also like to thank Deborah for responding to my questions so promptly. Her website is here and her Twitter account is here.
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One thought on “A successful student-professional partnership in Oregon

  1. Pingback: Future of College Media: What role should collegiate outlets have on national issues? « Life of Riley

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