Vidette looks to the future of journalism with redesign of the Learning Lab – News
La Vidette will start the fall semester 2021 in a new direction after a reorganization that will bring student media closer to Illinois State University’s school of communication and better prepare students for the journalism of the future.
For most of its 133-year history, The Vidette has been an independent, student-run medium. Beginning this fall, The Vidette will double its role as a journalism learning laboratory by linking its work more closely to the School of Communication’s curriculum, particularly its journalism program. Vidette journalists will continue to be able to gain real-world experience while earning course credit towards their graduation.
Vidette journalists will retain their editorial independence while being guided by an educational advisor, with additional support from other professors from the School of Communication. The Vidette Publishing Board will continue to play a key role in overseeing the publication.
“There is no doubt that the journalism industry is all about change, and the staff at The Vidette are navigating this situation and will be better positioned as a leader in digital journalism,” said Dr Steve Hunt, executive director of the School of Communication. “Our staff took this moment as an opportunity to improve operations and opportunities for our students. With a new funding and program model, The Vidette is well positioned to be successful going forward.
The transition will also align The Vidette more closely with WGLT, Bloomington-Normal’s professionally staffed NPR member station. WGLT staff and studios will be relocating from the former Union Building to the Vidette Building, 500 W. Locust St., in the coming months. While The Vidette and WGLT will remain separate organizations with separate newsrooms, both staff will benefit from the ISU Journalism Learning Lab and Community Media in the same physical space. Students have worked and will continue to work for both outlets, and the two staff will have the opportunity to team up on special report projects.
The Vidette Educational Advisor will report to the WGLT Director General, RC McBride. The commercial and advertising activities of the Vidette will be absorbed by the existing staff of the WGLT in the interest of economic efficiency. Organizations will maintain separate finances and private donations to either will continue to be reserved only for that organization.
“WGLT is committed to training and preparing the journalists of the future. WGLT, both alone and through NPR, can offer the work of Vidette students a chance to reach a different audience and gain valuable experience, not to mention CV material, ”said McBride. “And in addition to the access to mentorship that Vidette students already have with faculty and the board, award-winning WGLT journalists will now be more accessible.”
This is just the latest evolution in the long history of The Vidette, which was founded in 1888 and first printed in booklet form. After decades as a primarily print publication, The Vidette will focus on fully digital publishing in the fall of 2021. Vidette students will also have access to the WGLT recording studios if they wish to embark on any projects. of audio journalism.
La Vidette, like so many American newspapers, has faced serious financial challenges in recent years as traditional advertising revenue has disappeared. Starting in July 2020, the Vidette transition committee explored many options to transform La Vidette into an agile, ambitious and sustainable type of digital news publication that could be the future of the journalism industry. The work was carried out in part by Vidette alumni and the ISU journalism faculty, including Vidette chief executive John Plevka. They ultimately opted for the model that will go into effect in the fall of 2021.
“As a student-run organization, The Vidette has been invented and reinvented many times over the past 133 years,” said Plevka. “The withdrawal of a proud print tradition represents another such reinvention. Shifting exclusively and aggressively to a digital format and aligning it with the School of Communication’s curriculum is a reinvention that should strengthen the overall student experience at The Vidette.
The School of Communication is a national leader in providing cutting-edge communication education. Through its undergraduate and graduate programs, the school prepares students for the most significant challenges facing the discipline and its professions in the 21st century. The School of Communication offers many opportunities for students to gain work experience, including with TV-10, WZND and The Vidette.