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DEAR READER: Collaborative spirit reigns in journalism world

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | 3:52 p.m. CST; updated 4:18 p.m. CST, Monday, December 19, 2011

COLUMBIA — Journalism's history records many moments that professors incorporate into their lectures. To name just a few, how about John Peter Zenger's 1735 trial that defined press freedom, the first edition of The New York Times in 1851 and the founding of the Missouri School of Journalism in 1908 by Walter Williams and his still-revered Journalist's Creed.

For four MU students, another date now has prominence — 1958, when The Newspaper Fund was started.

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Kip Hill, Laura Kebede, Will Guldin and Charles Minshew were selected this past week as winners of Dow Jones News Fund Editing internships. They are each awaiting a grand adventure. Each of them will spend time at an editing "boot camp," which is pretty much what it sounds like — days of intense training to become even better copy editors.

Then for the summer months, they'll be off for 10- to 12-week paid internships at various news sites across the country. Kip will be at the Chicago Tribune; Charles is heading to The Denver Post; Will travels west to The Kansas City Star; and Laura is bound for Newsday in Long Island, N.Y.

While I wish them well, I must confess to being a bit envious. Although the fund existed back in my college days, I simply hadn't heard of it then, and I never took the qualifying test. It would be such an honor to be a "Dow Joneser."

The Newspaper Fund was started by the editors at The Wall Street Journal as a way to entice and nurture new journalists. Through scholarships and job opportunities, it helped teachers gain knowledge of journalism, encouraged students to consider journalism as a career and provided the financial aid to make those dreams come true.

It even published a book, "Do You Belong in Journalism?," as further inducement to attract youngsters to join the profession. It's a fascinating read, albeit a bit dated especially in a couple of essays that discourage women from pursuing news careers. Fifty years later, Rick Kenney, a journalism professor, former newspaper editor and Dow Jones internship winner, wrote "Copy," a history of the fund's first half century.

Today, to reflect the change in news dissemination, the program is called the News Fund.

The Missouri School of Journalism has long been a boot camp site and will be again this year in late May. Brian Brooks, the associate dean for undergraduate studies, has been affiliated with the program for 36 years. For the past few years, I've been lucky enough to help teach at the boot camp, and this year I made the trip to the Dow Jones News Fund headquarters near Princeton, N.J., to help select the internship winners. It was a bit of a boot camp for me, too, to learn the ins and outs of the program and the selection process.

It would be difficult to find a more helpful group of people than the staff at the office and the other selectors.

But, upon reflection, I realized the Dow Jones folks are like the participants in the Show Me the Errors contest and vice versa. And both groups are like lots of other folks in journalism. They are more interested in the process of practicing good journalism and helping others to do the same than they are about being right or playing gotcha.

During November, 32 Show Me the Errors participants sent in 92 suggested corrections. Jim Terry, our most faithful participant, submitted 35. He was followed by Pat Sweet, a recent graduate of the J-School, with 25 entries.

Following our new process for selecting the winner by a drawing based on the number of entries per person, Sweet took the honors for the month. He will receive a copy of "The Great Typo Hunt" and a Missourian T-shirt.

Thanks to all for joining us in making ColumbiaMissourian.com a better website. We really do appreciate your assistance.

Maggie Walter is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and an interactive news editor at ColumbiaMissourian.com. While waiting for the shuttle at the Princeton airport, she cringed when she heard a singer intone, "Santa's reindeers." It's just reindeer, without the "s," even if they belong to Santa and magical stories.


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