June 21st, 2006 11:32 EST
West Virginia University opens new doors for Rural county
The Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism sent six students, Dean Maryanne Reed and Professor Emily Corio to Monroe County last week to begin work on a radio project at WHFI.
“This is about giving the community a voice,” said Emily Corio, professor at the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism.
The project was designed to find out the news wants and needs of the Monroe County, and then begin the process of implementing changes to the station that will ultimately create a 15 minute news broadcast on September 1.
“What’s going to come of this is a daily 15 minute newscast, called the news at noon,” said Bobby Rizzuto, a broadcast news major at West Virginia University who participated in the project.
The funding for the project was made possible by Dean Reed’s grant proposal. The grant received was for $12,000 and another $5000 will be added upon the success of the project and a matching contribution by the SOJ.
“We thought that Monroe County had a great asset in this radio station, and we wanted to help them to take better advantage of it,” Corio said.
In Monroe County, said Corio, there is news only when something odd or disastrous happens.
With a developed community radio station, the citizens of Monroe County would be able to get all the news, rather than simply the bad.
“We’re facilitators and aids in this, but we aren’t trying to tell them what to do,” Corio said.
The idea of helping the citizens to create a program that works for them is the whole idea behind the project.
“Our hope is that because of this, the people will be better informed so they can make better decisions about issues in their county,” Corio said.
There were two town hall meetings held to distribute surveys and discuss the wants of the community.
The data will be interpreted this Wednesday to analyze what types of programs should be suggested for broadcast.
“We were pleased with the turnout at the meetings,” Rizzuto said.
The surveys also were to recruit volunteers and Corio says there was a good number of people who have asked to be contacted.
“We’re now developing a training manual to teach anyone in the community how to report or help out at the station,” Corio said.
During the project, there was a day long crash course in journalism.
“We went over everything from reporting to media ethics all in one day,” Rizzuto said.
There was also interaction with high school students at James Monroe High School, which is where WHFI is located..
“We each had a student who was paired up with us,” Rizzuto said, “Susan Vest shadowed me at a Peterstown town hall meeting.”
She just watched as Rizzuto took notes during the meeting, but he said Vest actively participated in the interview process at the end of the meeting.
“I think this is going to offer a lot of opportunities to the students in the county in the long run,” Rizzuto said.