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Students create news program for FOX 17

April 21, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A 30-minute news program produced by journalism and video production students at Western Michigan University will be broadcast at 6 a.m. Sunday, April 23, on FOX 17 WXMI in Grand Rapids.

Jan Kruse, a broadcast journalism instructor in WMU's School of Communication, notes that WXMI's FOX Student News project gave 25 students at the University a chance to test their skills by producing a professional-quality news program that includes several campus- and general student-stories.

"This project is terrific because it gives students the valuable experience of writing and producing news stories that will be assembled into a newscast and shown on a commercial TV station in a top-40 television market," says Jan Kruse, who served as executive producer and journalism advisor for WMU's group. "I don't think there are many universities across the country that can say their students have done that."

WMU took part in the FOX Student News project for the first time in 2005, adds Dr. Jennifer Machiorlatti, associate professor of communication. Machiorlatti coordinated the creation of this year's video production and provided guidance on story production and development. Kruse's students did all of the reporting work and Machiorlatti's students all the camera, producing and post-production work, as well as assembled the final program.

"WXMI's news project for students is open to high schools and universities across West Michigan, and the word from several 'reliable sources' is that our 2005 submission was the most professional program they broadcast last year," Machiorlatti says.

"Regardless of the early time slot for the WMU student newscast, it's a polished program that addresses important issues of interest to the WMU community and the general public," she says. "Our students worked exceptionally hard this year, and the quality of their program shows it."

Machiorlatti notes that because WMU produced a "real" program that aired on a valid news outlet, it is eligible for various awards. She plans to submit the newscast and individual segments of it to the Student Emmy Award program sponsored by the Michigan Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and some of the Broadcast Education Association's student news competitions.

WMU produced six segments for its 2006 FOX Student News newscast. The names and a description of these segments are as follows.

"Barrier Free?"--The American Disabilities Act of 1990 guarantees that students with disabilities have accessibility to facilities at WMU. Most buildings are up to code, but there are still concerns because some buildings were built prior to the 1990 act.

"Renter's Rights"--Not reading the small print on leasing agreements could cost student renters money. These hidden charges are investigated in this segment.

"Adderall Use and Abuse"--Adderall is a drug prescribed to patients with ADHD, but the drug is also being used for purposes of recreation and stimulation. The WMU Student News team reports on the increased use of this drug by college students.

"Balancing Athletics and Academics"--Student athletes face stresses and challenges not often explored in media. This story discusses the reality of balancing athletics and academics.

"Kalamazoo Live: the Local Music Scene"--WMU students who have formed independent bands have a hard time generating local support from area businesses and patrons. This story explores the issue of local talent from a "front row" and on-stage perspective.

"Students for Change; Ethnic Reconciliation"--Race, ethnicity and other differences create tension and uncertainty between people and social groups in this country. At WMU, two faith-based student organizations discuss what they are doing to reduce tensions and create unity among the student population.

For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Machiorlatti at jennifer.machiorlatti@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3141.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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