CNN selects URI for its new student bureau

KINGSTON, R.I.– October 22, 1998 — Current URI journalism students are being given an unprecedented opportunity to become the next Christianne Amanpour, a 1983 alumnus and award-winning international reporter for CNN. That’s because URI is among the first 20 colleges around the world and the only University in New England to be selected by CNN to help launch a new initiative called the CNN Student Bureau (CNN SB). CNN SB was designed as the first, official worldwide student news gathering and reporting bureau. Announced this September by CNN and Turner Learning, the educational division of Turner Broadcasting, CNN SB will allow high school and college students a chance to publish their written and video work internationally on CNN NEWSROOM, the commercial-free, news and features program for schools. The reports will also run on the Turner Learning Web site URI is among 20 pilot colleges and 10 high schools to become a CNN SB affiliate. The network expects the number of affiliates to grow to 1,000 by June 2000. URI is getting in on the ground floor thanks to Dr. Tony Silvia of Little Compton, chair of URI’s Journalism Department, who completed a sabbatical at CNN. “The wonderful thing about the bureau is that it gives students the opportunity to have their work seen by a global audience. There is no guarantee that every story they do will end up on the network, but as in real life, they will be competing with other journalists, in this case student journalists from around the world for column space and air time.” Two students, Robin Lorusso and Matt Cotnoir, are establishing a Web page to post URI stories. URI journalism alumna Kathy Doyle ’85 who works at the Wall Street Journal is volunteering her time to help with the page. Two classes are collaborating on stories as writers and editors. One course is a public affairs class taught by Freedom Forum Journalist-in-Residence Peter Lord, the other is an editing class taught by Craig Berke, a copy editor at the Providence Journal and a 1977 URI alumnus. The students and teachers work together flushing out local story ideas and explore the Web to put the story in a national context. One pair of students, juniors Robert Lee and Jackie Tozzi, are trying to the determine what effect a winning basketball team has on enrollment. They note the increase in freshmen enrollment at URI and wonder if the successful Rams account for the gain. The pair is checking other schools such as Valparaiso for any relevant data. Meanwhile, Silvia is overseeing 14 journalism and communications studies interns who are breathing new life into the campus television station. URI NEWS broadcasts daily. The 15-minute broadcasts incorporate campus, national, and international news since, as an affiliate, URI can use CNN’s raw video. Students are taking turns writing scripts, operating cameras, producing, directing, etc. “We’re learning the skills we will need with this kind of hands-on experience,” says junior Vivien King who on this day is the show’s producer. As president of URI-TV, King is enthusiastic and determined to lift the profile of the station. When asked if she wanted to be the next Christianne Amanpour, King smiled and said news is fine but she prefers entertainment. “I’m going to be the next Oprah,” she says with a smile. -xxx- For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116