Citing the need to inspire a new generation of political and public-affairs reporters, the University of California Center Sacramento will launch a program to teach UC students how to cover government and politics. Former California Journal editor A.G. Block has been appointed to develop and implement the plan.
"We are very excited to add journalism to the growing list of center activities," said center director Gary Dymski. "A healthy democracy depends on a well-informed electorate; and public institutions have to do their part in keeping the electorate informed, especially when that electorate is drawn from California's large and diverse population. UC will play its part by training the next generation of reporters and editors."
The University of California Center, at 12th and K streets, was established in 2003 as a setting for UC undergraduate and graduate students to study and work in the capitol. It began with a class in public policy and this summer expanded with additional courses in environmental policy and political journalism --- the latter a model for a broader program to be developed by Block and the center staff. Scholars from UC 10 campuses spend one or more terms in Sacramento where they take classes and an internship for academic credit.
"Sacramento is the ideal location for a public-affairs journalism program," said Block. "State government is accessible and its politics as vibrant as anywhere in the country. It's extremely important that we grab the attention of smart and curious students and encourage them to consider a career as reporters and editors."
Dymski and Block envision a program that will offer coursework in, among other topics, reporting, writing, journalistic ethics and Web-based research. Students also will be given a crash course in the recent history of California politics and key issues facing the Legislature and governor.
"But the center isn't just offering a study program," said Block who, as an editor at the nonpartisan California Journal covered state government and politics for 23 years. "We want students to get their hands dirty by being reporters, enterprising stories and features, and having their work published."
Block said the University of California Center Sacramento is exploring a variety of options for internships, including establishing a university news bureau, with faculty as editors and students serving as reporters. The program is expected to receive its first cohort of UC students late in 2006.
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