An online survey is currently available to those who choose to participate. To take the online survey, click on the link for "EKU Journalism Survey" on our homepage. An invitation to complete the online survey also will be sent to more than 500 people in the Danville area who belong to the social networking site Facebook.
Class members are conducting the surveys to gauge reader interest in the online site, as well as to determine how The Advocate-Messenger can make its Web site more accessible and engaging for readers.
"It's going to enable them to customize their Web site in a way that people who like the Web site will really enjoy, and people who don't use the Web site will find useful," Ben Kleppinger, a senior journalism student, said of the surveys.
Deborah Givens, instructor of the class, said the idea of promoting community journalism is important to the journalism department at EKU.
"We want to help community newspapers better serve their readers," Givens said.
On site with Advocate staff
The project began in February when the class met with The Advocate-Messenger staff and toured the newspaper's facilities. While there, the class discussed ideas with the staff about how to create the report.
Over the next few weeks, students were assigned a staff member to interview and interact with. Each student spent at least five hours with his or her assigned staff member, attending events such as basketball games, a girl's basketball bracket drawing and meetings. The students also observed the staff members in their office working environment.
The class also conducted research for reports that will be combined later as a community profile of the Danville area.
Students will present the final report to The Advocate-Messenger staff in early May.
John Nelson, executive editor of The Advocate-Messenger, said journalism professors at EKU approached him with the project idea, which he accepted because he had good experience with the class at his previous newspaper, Pulaski Week.
Nelson said The Advocate-Messenger plans to use the research gathered by the students to make the newspaper more interactive and useful to readers, while helping the students at the same time.
"We hope to provide a good experience for the students and further develop our relationship with the school," Nelson said.
The Community Journalism class started in 1991 with funding from the Kentucky Press Association, said Liz Hansen, a journalism professor at EKU and one of the class founders.
In 2002, Hansen began approaching newspapers to cover the funding for the reports once the KPA funding expired. The first paper to accept was the Richmond Register. Since 2003, the class also has conducted reports at the Times-Tribune in Corbin, the Sentinel-Echo in London and the Eastern Progress, the student newspaper at EKU.