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School of Communication

University news service offers experience, published work

Point Park News Service also prepares students for multimedia careers

Students participating in Point Park News Service during the spring 2010, with faculty director Andrew Conte, far left. | Photo by Christopher Rolinson
In the offices of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Point Park News Service founder and faculty director Andrew Conte, far left, with School of Communication graduates who took the News Service class and went on to land jobs in the news media.  From left to right:  Andrew Conte, Daveen Kurutz McLaughlin, Gina Puppo, Rachel Weaver, Justin LaBar, Lucy Leitner and Jodi Weigand

June 2010

Daveen Rae Kurutz, 27, says she counts the Point Park News Service as one of the best experiences of her education.

Kurutz participated in the news service as a graduate student to expand her reporting and writing skills. As a result, she was able to turn an internship with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review into a full-time job and today serves as an education writer for the newspaper.

“The news service gives you a real newsroom environment to work in and places real demands on you. Nowhere else in the region are you going to find that kind of experience,” says the 2009 graduate.  

Point Park’s School of Communication is part of an exclusive list of journalism schools offering news wire services.

Each semester, a select group of students take the advanced-level news service course under the direction of adjunct faculty member Andrew Conte, who works full time as an investigative reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The students complete a specific number of written pieces, videos or photography projects. Media partner Trib Total Media is given the first right to use the students’ original work and regularly selects pieces for publication in its Tribune-Review newspapers and related websites. Students receive a byline and a stringer fee. All works are then posted to the news service’s website, and other outlets have the opportunity to tap into the students’ fresh perspectives.

Jeanette Reft, 25, a senior print journalism major who graduated this spring, investigated the effects of construction on businesses in Pittsburgh’s Market Square and had her Q&A with a local restaurant owner published in the Trib p.m.

“The news service taught me how to work with members of a reporting team,” says Reft of the hands-on experience.

 “The atmosphere is similar to real newsroom,” says 24-year-old broadcast major Ashley Campolongo, who also graduated this spring.  “You learn to develop stories fully but also you learn about handling deadlines and when to go with what you have, just like on the job.”

Campolongo produced professional-quality videos and articles during the class.

Photojournalism students work with photography professor Chris Rolinson on visual storytelling, and their resulting images rotate on the website and are also available for publication.

Kim Kweder, 24, who graduated in 2007 and works for the World Bank as a social media consultant and web writer, says she honed her writing skills during two semesters of Point Park News Service classes and learned much from Conte about creating content.

“Andy was always working with us on how to get out there, talk to people and find stories,” says Kweder. “He knows how to make a piece come to life and what key points will make it interesting all the way through.”

Students who participate in the Point Park News Service not only have the opportunity to sharpen their skills and get published, but also to meet professional writers, editors, photographers, video reporters and producers, and others in the industry.