The Summer Journalism Institute, a program that will focus on writing newspaper or magazine style feature articles, will kick off the summer session with a bang, and just like last year’s Screenwriting Institute, it will give students the chance to work with some very successful Witt alums.
“We’ve got four alumni on board,” said D’Arcy Fallon, an English professor and seasoned journalist who will be leading the class. The four alumni, who students will work with intensively throughout the course, include Anne Ford, Keith Phipps, Deb Cassell, and Fred Mitchell. And in an age where print media is rumored to be losing some of its steam, these alums have found great success in the field.
Ford graduated from Wittenberg in 1997 and has gone on to write freelance articles for publications including Parenting, Lake Magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. Phipps, class of ’95, is a successful film reviewer and entertainment writer for satirical news publication, The Onion. Representing another facet of the journalism spectrum, Cassell, class of ’99, has gone on to write and edit for multiple trade magazines and is currently the executive editor for Candy Industry Magazine. Rounding out the group is Fred Mitchell, class of ’69, who writes the “Around Town” column for the Chicago Tribune and covers many of the sports beats as well. Mitchell, who also serves on the University’s Board of Directors at Wittenberg, was instrumental in launching the course.
Explained Dr. Cynthia Richards, Chair of the English Department, “We had been tossing around the idea of starting a summer journalism class when President Erickson walked by. We told him what we had in mind and he loved it! He had just gotten back from a board meeting that Fred Mitchell had attended, so we quickly got him involved, and he loved it! It all just snowballed from there.”
The Summer Journalism Institute will differ from traditional summer sessions in that it will take place in a rigorous but rewarding four weeks. Week one will include students researching topics of interest and hunting down stories in Chicago that they would potentially like to write about. Students will then take the field trip of a lifetime.
“We’re basically parachuting into Chicago!” Fallon exclaimed. While no actual parachutes will be involved, the experience will probably elicit the same type of adrenaline rush. “We’re staying in a youth hostel in the heart of the city. Students will be free to explore and discover…and write.”
While in Chicago, each of the Witt alums will offer guidance and expertise to students as they gather information for their stories. Students will also keep an online blog of the experience as they’re participating in the class, even using Flip cameras to document their adventures.
The last week of class will be held back on campus for writing and editing the articles and to prepare for the grand finale—producing an actual magazine. “I really love feature writing,” said Fallon. “It’s my thing. And for this class, I thought it would be really great to have a finished product.”
The class will be open to all students, but admission is competitive. Any student interested in participating must submit a six to eight page writing sample, though it doesn’t have to be a newspaper story. “Just something that showcases your best writing,” advises Fallon. The sample must also include a cover letter that briefly describes yourself and your goals as a writer.
Around a dozen students will be chosen, and deadline for submission is April 10th. Once students have been notified of acceptance, they must register through Wittenberg’s School of Community Education. For more information about the Summer Journalism Institute or to submit a writing sample, email D’Arcy Fallon at firstname.lastname@example.org.