7 college students participate in the 2018 NNAF News Fellows program

May 4, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Seven college students came to Washington in mid-March to participate in the National Newspaper Association Foundation’s News Fellows Program. This is the sixth year the foundation has offered this program.

Journalism students can apply for the program through their state newspaper association. Those selected travel to the Washington area, funded by the state association or their association’s foundation, to report on a topic of national importance.

The program ran during NNA’s Community Newspaper Leadership Summit, March 14-15.

This year, the topic was how do the major political parties find ways to work together—“Red State, Blue State: What a State of Affairs!” The students were given the opportunity to meet with policymakers and policy influencers during their time in the city. Some of them also met with their states’ congressional representatives in Washington and from their home states. Part of the assignment is to determine the facts of a story from the “spin”—the various sides of the issue presented to the public.

To help with their meetings and getting around town, the students are matched with veteran journalists, who act as mentors during their stay.
The students are also required to write at least one article for publication on the topic. These articles may be placed in their school papers or published locally through their state newspaper associations. Some of them are also printed in this issue of Pub Aux, starting on this page.

This year, the students were: Hunter Andes, from Bismarck State College, sponsored by the North Dakota Newspaper Association; Cassie Buchman, from Eastern Illinois University, sponsored by the Illinois Press Association; Monica Diaz, from Kansas State University, sponsored by the Kansas Press Association; John Hammel, from the University of Georgia, sponsored by the Georgia Press Association; Lauryn Higgins, from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, sponsored by the Nebraska Press Association; Mady Johnston, from Alvernia University, sponsored by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association; and Elissa Kedziorek, from Western Michigan University, sponsored by the Michigan Press Association Foundation.

Mentors this year were: Steve Haynes, president and publisher, Nor’West Newspapers, The Oberlin Herald, Oberlin, KS; Merle Baranczyk, owner, Arkansas Valley Publishing Inc., Salada, CO; Chris Eddings, retired president and publisher of The Daily Record, Baltimore; Cynthia Haynes, publisher, The Oberlin Herald, Oberlin, KS; and Elizabeth K. Parker, co-publisher/executive editor, New Jersey Hills Media Group, Bernardsville, NJ.

Their first day, the students had a news briefing with Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation at the group’s headquarters. After that, they met with Donna Murphy from Better Angels, a citizen’s group focused on facilitating communication across political differences. The next day, the students travelled to the Newseum for a briefing by Jan Neuharth, chair and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, and for a tour of the Newseum by Shelby Coffey III, vice chair of the Newseum.

After the tour, the students went over to Capitol Hill for their scheduled visits with their representatives or their staffs. Later in the day, they attended a briefing by Reps. David Trott, R-MI, and Debbie Dingell, D-MI, at The Capitol Club. Once the briefing concluded, they returned to their congressional visits. That evening, the students gathered at the National Press Club for dinner and to hear the summit’s keynote speaker—Lally Weymouth, senior associate editor of the Washington Post, and the daughter of former Washington Post publishers Donald Graham and Katharine Graham.

The next day, the students made their way to the Gallup building for a briefing about data on how and where the nation is split but also on issues where it seems more united.

They finished their time in Washington with a lunch meeting with the NNA board to talk about their experiences with the News Fellows Program.