The PRINCIPLES OF NEWSPAPER WRITING course at the University of Mary Washington was designed to marry old-school in-depth reporting and new-school digital technology. In other words, journalistic tradition in modern form. The instructor, Michael McCarthy, assigned three teams of students a “beat” — or a specific area of news coverage — and asked them to use their own research, creativity and initiative to develop Web-based special reports. With four to five students on each team, they had all semester to report on their topics, conduct interviews, and gather data and design their pages.
To portray with some depth the university’s chase for reaccreditation, what students do with their free time, and what happens to students after graduation, the class worked on three beats and completed these reports.