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OHIO journalism organization stages breaking news simulation

The Ohio University chapter of Society of Professional Journalists (OUSPJ) gave students an opportunity to practice their news gathering and writing skills at a breaking news training simulation on campus April 8.

Students responded in real time to changing circumstances including a scenario about a wrong-way car crash on Court Street that included injuries and a fatality. SPJ chapter leaders wrote the scenario that included news releases from government organizations and a hospital, as well as “witnesses” from the scene. Chapter leaders played roles of witnesses and collected the news stories, photos, videos and social media posts produced by student teams.

Journalism professors Mark Turner and Elizabeth Hendrickson, Ph.D., were judges for the event.

“We wanted another way for students to collaborate with each other that might not be in the same student publications,” Kayla Bennett, chapter president, said. “While planning, we also knew it was important to give an opportunity to students that they might not experience. That's why we chose a scenario that included how to report on trauma journalism. As journalists, it's important we know how to report on sensitive topics and approach sources in ethical ways.”

Bennett and SPJ Vice President Claire Schiopota participated in fall 2021 at The Ohio State University’s National Security Simulation. Two dozen OHIO journalism majors were invited to play the roles of journalists and public relations professionals at that simulation.

“The idea originated from OUSPJ’s goal to have more hands-on workshops,” Schiopota said. “I wanted more opportunities for students to grow their skills through experience, and that’s when simulating a news event came to mind. It seemed like a fun opportunity for students to try cover events they normally don’t have the opportunity to in Athens. It’s a way for us to compete with some of the colleges in big cities where breaking news is happening all the time.”

Tetiana Gordiienko
Keynote speaker and Ukrainian journalist Tetiana Gordiienko shared best practices with students for reporting on trauma.

The event also included a keynote from Ukrainian media analyst and journalist Tetiana Gordiiendo, who is a visiting researcher at Purdue University within the Brian Lamb School of Communication and Purdue Policy Research Institute. She is a doctoral student at the School of Journalism, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. After working at a number of Ukrainian news media outlets, Gordiienko joined the nonprofit organizations Detector Media and Media Development Foundation. She works with journalists who are covering trauma.

“This event dovetails perfectly with the university’s renewed emphasis on experiential learning. I’m so proud of these students for doing this on their own and providing an excellent co-curricular experience for their peers,” Nerissa Young, OUSPJ faculty adviser, said.

The Ohio University chapter of SPJ has been named national outstanding campus chapter nine times during its history. It is affiliated with the national Society of Professional Journalists organization in Indianapolis and part of a national network of professional and campus chapters. Its missions are professional training, ethics, freedom of information and inclusion.

April 20, 2023
Staff reports