About NewsLab

The Collaborative NewsLab at Kent State University is an experiential and collaborative news commons, launched in June 2020, that helps provide School of Media and Journalism (MDJ) students with real-world reporting experiences through paid internships, while also connecting under-resourced professional media partners with quality, solutions-based coverage focused on local communities and issues. 

Our students receive highly mentored and supported professional experience and modest pay. And our reporting serves the greater Ohio community, with a particular focus on underserved residents of urban and rural communities.

NewsLab was created by Susan Kirkman Zake, who also served as faculty newsroom adviser to The Kent Stater, KentWired and TV2. Sue is now the Editor-in-Chief of Signal Akron.

Experiential learning:

NewsLab students report on a variety of public policy stories with editing help from Rosalie Murphy, a journalist who writes about small business for NerdWallet. Our students take on complex stories that serve the public interest–their work is regularly published by Public News Service’s Ohio News Connection, The Portager, The Land and Ideastream’s WKSU, among other news partners.

Hundreds of stories by dozens of student journalists have been published since we began. The hands-on reporting experiences students receive help them build significant portfolios of work that highlight their skills and interests and prepare them for a news environment that continues to face financial challenges, one where they must be “job ready” when they graduate.

Filling news gaps, building civic literacy:

Declines in local media coverage have led to coverage gaps, creating news deserts and exacerbating declines in civic literacy and accountability for public officials. NewsLab supports local media organizations that are emerging to help fill those gaps.

Coming from and covering diverse communities, developing news leadership skills:

NewsLab is committed to helping meet critical information needs in underserved communities.  We’re also working to build a pipeline of trained journalists and media-savvy citizens in those communities and beyond. About 40% of NewsLab students are from underrepresented populations; these students are pursuing journalism careers and frequently want to align their work with the needs and demands of newsrooms lacking in diverse representation, as well as those who struggle to cover underrepresented communities. They also are building leadership skills in the areas of journalism innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, training and support for local news and media literacy initiatives.