Columbia, Mo. (April 2, 2004) — The opportunity to write for a daily community newspaper was one of the reasons Cristian Lupsa selected the Missouri School of Journalism for his graduate studies. What he did not anticipate was the opportunity to develop a new publication.
A somewhat nontraditional approach has been taken to creating the publication as the community has been involved in its development.Lupsa, of Romania, is one of many journalism students who are working with the School’s faculty to develop an innovative Sunday news product for the Columbia Missourian, the working newspaper lab for students. The first prototype will replace the regular issue on April 4.
The Missourian started its public prototyping process in early March by inserting a blank, four-page section in the paper for area residents to sketch their ideas. Readers indicated that they would like to see an assortment of topics that usually are not covered in traditional newspapers.”This is a first in community journalism,” said Tom Warhover, executive editor of the community daily newspaper affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism. “We felt that if our community could actually see how their suggestions played out in print before final decisions were made, they’d be much more motivated to continue to help build a paper that truly respects that desires and requirements.”
After the launch of the prototype, graduate students will conduct qualitative and quantitative research to supplement the informal feedback from the community. Editors, reporters and design experts will work to incorporate the feedback and research into the next prototype which will be published on May 2. Once again, the editors will be asking for community feedback and students will conduct research. The final product will be a new Sunday publication set to debut later this year.
“We really mean it when we say we’re trying to offer a paper that serves our citizens needs as well as the needs of a democratic society,” Warhover noted.
Graduate and undergraduate students from many areas of study are involved with the new publication. Strategic communications students work on promotional aspects. News-editorial, magazine and photography students develop editorial, design and other visual concepts.
“This is the ‘Missouri Method’ in action,” Warhover said of hands-on training in real media experiences provided at the School.
Although challenging, journalism students are enjoying the opportunity.
“Being a part of the new Sunday Missourian is very exciting because you can break the constraints of a typical daily paper,” Lupsa said. “I have the freedom to try new things and experiment with my own writing style.”