Focus on Education

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VCIJ will become a premier, hands-on teaching newsroom for upper-level journalism students at Virginia universities seeking independent study. It will initially choose up to four students interested in investigative and enterprise reporting for a semester-long project. It will eventually offer post-graduate fellowships for recent graduates seeking to launch a career in the field and stipends for veteran journalists with meaningful reporting projects needing resources and collaboration. 

Veteran journalists will help students identify, report and write project-level investigations. The professional journalists, professor and student will identify issues, sources and data to produce a multimedia story. 

The student will collaborate on finding an under-reported issue affecting students or a larger community in Virginia. Examples may include gun violence, student debt, mental health or cultural trends.

Each project will give students a valuable, tangible portfolio to present to future employers. They will develop new reporting, fact-checking and storytelling skills necessary for online journalism. 

VCIJ advisors will serve as editors and find placement for stories on appropriate platforms - local newspaper, public television or radio, or specific-interest websites. 

At the end of the semester, students will have developed skills and gained critical experience and insight into the process of investigative reporting -- attention to detail, organization, deadline and communication skills. These skills translate to many professional fields, including law and higher education.

They also will understand the process for identifying and writing an investigative piece: What are the ethical and legal issues journalists work within? What is the difference between a work of opinion and one of fact-based, unbiased reporting? 

The process will teach the elements that make a story balanced - rigorously seeking and including voices from all sides of an issue; reporting and discussing important issues with peers, and conducting interviews on sensitive and under-reported topics.

They will emerge with a greater sense of skills on managing a complex project, meeting deadlines, communicating with peers, community members and handling the conflict inherent in investigative stories.