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Westminster College Broadcast Communications Students Network with Area Professionals

Friday, July 13, 2012

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - When Eight Westminster College students signed up for the "Broadcast Journalism II" course they were challenged to grow as broadcast journalists with intense hands-on projects and opportunities to network with area journalism professionals.

The course was offered during the spring semester and students studied online journalism as it related to television news, including practical, ethical and legal considerations involved in news gathering, writing, shooting, editing and reporting. Students also generated story ideas, made contacts with sources, conducted interviews, shot, wrote and edited local news stories for the Westminster Cable Network (WCN), Titan Radio and the WCN website (wcn247.com).

In addition, they completed freelance reporting projects for New Castle News working with Editor Tim Kolodziej, and reviewed work with Gary Coursen, news director of WKBN-TV; and WPXI-TV reporter Amy Marcinkiewicz and her videographer Tom Racette. It is the practical, hands-on experience, coupled with mentoring and assignment opportunities from the local journalism community, that students said taught them what they could never learn solely from a textbook.

"Gary Coursen reinforced the idea that for a graduate to get hired as a reporter or videographer, they must be able to shoot, perform, write, and edit at the professional level. Content is king," said Joe Ligo, a junior broadcast communications major from Mercer.

"It was helpful in driving home the seriousness of meeting deadlines in the professional setting," said Courtney Crown, a senior broadcast communications major from Coshocton, Ohio. "We of course have pressures from our professors to make deadlines, but when you're working for the actual news, it's a pressure that aids in preparing us for life after college. Having outside opportunities takes students to the next level."

"Amy Marcinkiewicz was exactly what my work needed," according to Ashley Durham, a senior broadcast communications major from Aliquippa. "Having someone sit down with you and tell you how to work as a reporter and where to improve is crucial to the learning process and we really got that with her."

The freelance project with New Castle News was one of the major assignments for the class and led to many exciting opportunities for the students. Instead of the students being paid for their work, they received a positive grade if New Castle News carried their stories online, which added to their portfolio. Many of the students were also hired for additional paid freelance work at New Castle News and freelance work at TV stations that participated.

"I was impressed with the students' work. Several of the stories were among the best I have seen from college video journalists," Coursen said. He has visited the class in the past and has hired Westminster graduates to work at WKBN.

The course was taught by communication studies lecturer Bradley Weaver. He has been teaching broadcast & digital communications at Westminster since 2000 and has worked in broadcast journalism since 1985.   Weaver earned his undergraduate degree from Alderson-Broaddus College and his master's from the University of Kansas. He is currently a doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh.

Contact Weaver at (724) 946-7238 or email for additional information. 

To view the projects used by the New Castle News please go to the following links:

Joe Ligo's Hot Dogging It on the Streets of New Wilmington
https://vimeo.com/41425535

Connor Kobis' Westminster‘s Coach Hidden Talent
https://vimeo.com/41100843

Spring Break with a Purpose
https://vimeo.com/41010878

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster, a top-tier liberal arts college, ranks third in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 6th among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 376 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 42 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.

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Students meet with news director of WKBN-TV:( l- r ) Courtney Crown, Gary Coursen, Ashley Durham