Now more than ever it is important for students to have opportunities to earn industry experience. At Niagara University, our communication and media studies (CMS) students have the ability to earn start building this portfolio from the start of their time on campus through CMS 120: Media Writing. The course is taught by Joshua Maloni, a 2001 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences’ bachelor’s degree program in English, and the managing editor at Niagara Frontier Publications (NFP) since 2015. Under Maloni’s guidance, students have the opportunity to complete the course with the capstone project, a full-fledged article that is published to the NFP website.
“Students typically write about what they know best, life on campus and issues affecting themselves and their peers, but they also tackle societal issues, and of course, less serious topics like movies and television,” said Maloni. “What’s cool is that with most of the articles, some sort of advice or direction is provided for the readers to better themselves, and I attribute that to our department’s strong social justice curriculum.”
Taught in both the fall and summer semesters, students start by learning about foundational principles for the first month of the course before working on a variety of assignments during the semester.
“I have them write an article for me, to review and go over with them,” said Maloni. “They from there go into writing a press release, where we normally team with Community Missions. Everybody writes a press release, with the top press release, as chosen by Community Missions, is actually something else that we publish during the course of the semester. And then at that point, they are ready to move on to an actual feature article, a full-length feature that includes photos, (and) sometimes video or other graphics. All of those articles, provided they meet the criteria that I set forth in class, are published on our website.”
Working in the communications field for over two decades, Maloni sees the benefits for students, especially with the value that students gain when they can showcase a tangible piece of work to an employer, editor or publisher. The benefits are also prominent for him and Niagara Frontier Publications, too.
“The benefit for us is we’ve had I think about 20 NU interns, and we’ve also hired several NU graduates,” said Maloni. “So, something that might start as an in-class assignment, which then turns into an opportunity for them to get their work published, often times that leads into an internship and then even employment with us. So, we’ve benefited greatly by having some really good NU students come and work for us over the past decade. And a lot of them actually are pretty well-known I think within the local media industry, so we’ve been fortunate in that regard.”
Maloni has taught at Niagara University since 2009, and since starting the capstone project nearly a decade ago, nearly 250 articles have been published by NU students for Niagara Frontier Publications. To him, the growth of these students over the course of a semester is prominent, leading to getting a piece of their work placed online in a real news publication.
“What happens often is you have students that come in, who maybe have never written an article in their life before, and by the end of the semester they go through all of the steps of what it takes to be a writer, (and) what it takes to be a reporter," said Maloni. "They do grow and they do show progress. And because of that, they are given that opportunity then to get a work published by the end of the semester.”