Some of the best journalism schools in the country are on the list of this year’s award winners from the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. The Meek School is on that list, too, thanks to Prof. LaReeca Rucker.
The Challenge fund seeks to encourage the “teaching hospital model” in journalism education, which involves hands-on, experiential learning in the classroom. Rucker’s student-run news service, Oxford Stories, is designed to give those in introductory journalism classes an opportunity to get published.
“Thanks to our news partners, we were able to create something unique in college journalism with OxfordStories.net that, as far as I know, has not been done before in the state,” said Rucker. “It has been fun being part of the program’s evolution over the past two years.”
Launched in the fall of 2015 as a website where University of Mississippi journalism students could publish their work and share it on social media, Oxford Stories first teamed with The Oxford Eagle and HottyToddy.com, providing exclusive content for both publications. Student stories were reprinted in the newspaper and on the website, respectively. OxfordStories.net later added The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and The Oxford Citizen as partners.
Other schools winning challenge grants include the University of Southern California-Annenberg, University of Georgia, University of Miami, Ohio University and Michigan State University.
Rucker says she hopes students at the Meek School will learn about the power of journalism through their work on the site.
“I emphasize to students that small work can be big. They never know who their stories will touch,” Rucker said. “A woman might read one of their stories about a cancer survivor and decide to schedule an appointment for a mammogram that saves her life. Another person might read a story about a creative teacher and be inspired to become one, positively influencing the lives of hundreds of students as a result.
The award comes with a $35,000 grant to expand the program, and Rucker hopes other faculty and students will help grow and improve the project.
“We want our small Oxford Stories to have a big impact throughout the state, and one of our goals is to reach out to other publications statewide to help get student work published and operate as a fully functioning student news wire service. This is what we hope to realistically accomplish.”