Reports from the “Missing Middle”

Newark, Ohio

Narrative journalism — like most complex skills — needs to be practiced before it can be perfected. Thanks to Denison’s close proximity to small and large cities like Newark and Columbus, our narrative journalism students have access to thousands of stories to tell.

One initiative of the Narrative Journalism program is the Reporting Project, a platform for publishing work about Central Ohio by students, faculty, and local journalists. Another way narrative journalism students gain experience and connections is by participating in the Between Coasts forum that brings together writers, reporters and video journalists to elevate stories of “flyover” country in the US — everywhere between the coasts.

The Reporting Project is kicking off with a series on Black lives lived in nearby Newark. A collaboration with the Newark Advocate and the Licking County NAACP offers access to experiences that enrich empathy and invite questions that call for investigation into the facts and data that affect everyday people living out their lives.

The NAACP suggest people to profile, students do the reporting and writing, working in teams, and sometimes on more than one story, and the Advocate publishes the work.

“This is an attempt for us to help students put together story packages — and also a way to give them the experience of collaborating on stories,” says Jack Shuler, author and associate professor.

“It is a great learning experience, but also a way for students to learn more about the community where they go to school and for them to use their skills to support the work of the newly re-formed NAACP,” he adds.

Doug Swift, video-journalist and visiting assistant professor, shared tips on how to conduct interviews to get good tape for their audio and written stories. “I’ve seen students really break through in terms of skill level,” he says.

“It was very impressive to see how organized and dedicated they were in terms of reaching out to sources, following up, and getting their interviews,” he adds. “Truly a real-world experience.”

The Reporting Project

March 1, 2021