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Bangor: A look into the future

05/22/2014
Professor Jennifer Moore coordinated a web-based news project between her Digital Journalism class and the Bangor Daily News. Here's a link to the site:

Professor Jennifer Moore coordinated a web-based news project between her University of Maine Digital Journalism class and the Bangor Daily News. Here’s a link to the site: Bangor 20/20

University of Maine journalism students just presented a fantastic, end-of-the-semester project that served as both an in-depth look at life in Bangor and why Jen and I are living here in Maine.

Earlier this year, Jen told me she was organizing a collaborative project between her digital journalism class and the Bangor Daily News, the largest daily newspaper in Maine. The “capstone” project would connect the class with professional  journalists to develop an extensive report on life in the city of Bangor and goals for improvement by the year 2020.

I was sceptical.

Maybe 10 years ago, I worked on a project between the White Bear Press and a local college journalism class that failed miserably. The students just disappeared at the end of the semester. And after 25 years in a newsroom, I can count only a handful of college interns that were thoughtful, dedicated and mature enough to produce any consistent reporting.

But, like usual, Jen didn’t listen to me.

Professor Moore met almost weekly with the top editors at the Bangor Daily News and they put together a strong and ambitious three-month project for the 10 journalism students. The project would introduce the class to real world reporting and high-tech digital production.

Disappearing at the end of the semester was not an option.

Earlier this month, I attended the official “Bangor 2020” website launch.  The Bangor Daily News managing editor, high-ranking university officials and Bangor City Council members, including the council chairman, also attended the event.

Some important people were interested in this project.

The launch was held in a small, brick building that has been hidden behind the student union for a long, long time. But while the hallway was lined with thick wood doors and antique light fixtures, the newly remodeled presentation room featured twin projection screens.

Seeing a web launch on a large, twin projection screen is like chewing two pieces of gum at once. You’re getting the same sweet taste with double the punch.

And the student presentation was a knockout.

The fledgling student journalists spoke with authority, knowledge and charm to a difficult and challenging subject. Some of the students admitted to knowing little about Bangor despite living for years less than 10 miles from its famous Paul Bunyan statue. Yet the finished Bangor 2020 website reads like local natives, or highly paid consultants, put it all together.

The project showcased students who were fast learners and fearless reporters — skills that will take the students far in the “real” world.

And it all happened because the university has an innovative, smart and talented teacher. Jen motivated the outstanding students to higher levels. She discovered the strength of weaker students and polished everyone so their best rang out like a good headline.

The Bangor 2020 project was all about improving  the future: For the students and the city.

I encourage you to read it.

The students learned a lot and so will you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Comment
  1. This really is very impressive! Well done, Jen! On a much smaller scale, we’re doing projects with the sophomores to help them learn research skills, and they have to collect primary research from around Prague. 🙂

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