Student Reporter: The ‘Teach For America’ Of Brand Journalism
Brand publishing is becoming a big part of the media ecosystem. How big? Organizations devoted to training journalists are now focusing on making sure young writers can create quality branded content.
The organizations we work with are very supportive of our educational model, and they are looking to get an angle for content.”
Student Reporter is one such organization. Founded in 2011, this “experimental newsroom” offers students the chance to immerse themselves in educational webinars and pitch sessions before writing sponsored coverage of international conferences such as the World Economic Forum. Applicants come from the top undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs around the world, and admission rates are as low as 6% — comparable to highly-selective Ivy League Universities and programs like Teach For America. Veteran reporters also mentor new writers on the practice and ethics of journalism.
Once the training is complete, the conferences work with Student Reporter to sponsor writers to interview speakers and write features on topics that address economic and environmental sustainability. One article, for example, profiles Pragulic, a social enterprise that employs homeless people in Prague as city tour guides. The writers discovered Pragulic at Partnering for Global Impact, a conference in Switzerland that supplied access and funding for the piece.
“We’re creating experimental newsrooms all around the world,” said Sunmin Kim, Student Reporter’s Managing Editor. “The organizations we work with are very supportive of our educational model, and they are looking to get an angle for content.”
It always makes us question what is the role of journalism in these mission-driven topics.”
With similar partnerships at a dozen other events, Student Reporter has emerged as a branded content service that can facilitate relationships between conferences and writers who come from highly-specialized areas of study. The goal is to push beyond the walls of the classroom, according to Kim, by giving young reporters immediate experience and helping them turn potentially on-the-fringe subjects into mainstream pieces of storytelling, which are often syndicated to The Huffington Post.
“It always makes us question what is the role of journalism in these mission-driven topics. We operate as an agency, but we maintain independence by choosing who we work with,“ Kim said, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to only working with missions they support.
The model presents a way to educate and initiate the next generation of brand writers, one student reporter at a time, and that’s good news for the future of brand publishing.
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