American Indian Journalism Institute at USD seeks student nominations for 2004

American Indian Journalism Institute at USD seeks student nominations for 2004 Once again The University of South Dakota will host what is called "one of the most significant journalism programs ever directed at American Indian college students." The summer academic program will be fully funded by the Freedom Forum and The University of South Dakota will award four hours of college credit to graduates of the three-week course.

The American Indian Journalism Institute will offer about 25 Native American students the opportunity to train as newspaper reporters, editors and photographers. The Institute will be held June 6-25, in the Al Neuharth Media Center at USD, Vermillion. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in a college and must have completed their freshman year.

Nominations for the program are currently being accepted and are due by March 29.

The Freedom Forum, which runs the Al Neuharth Media Center, will pay all costs, including tuition, fees, room and board, and it will give graduates of the program a $500 scholarship/stipend when they resume fall classes at the college of their choice. The college-level course is sanctioned through USD's Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism. Students may apply to transfer the credits to other schools where they are enrolled.

Follow-up programs for the institute's top graduates include paid internships at daily newspapers, further experience and help with eventual job placement.

The summer institute, in its fourth year, is one of the most significant journalism programs ever directed at American Indian college students, according to University of South Dakota journalism Professor Ramon Chavez, who will again oversee the institute teaching staff.

"The American Indian Journalism Institute will be the first chance for many tribal college students to study journalism," Chavez said. Their schools typically lack journalism classes and school newspapers, the most common route to journalism careers.

The American Indian Journalism Institute is part of the Freedom Forum's commitment to increase employment diversity at daily newspapers.

"Improving diversity � having even one Native American working in a newsroom � makes a newspaper more aware of Indians in its community, and more sensitive and intelligent in reporting stories about them," said Jack Marsh, executive director of the Freedom Forum's Al Neuharth Media Center.

American Indians are by far the most underrepresented people of color in the news media � and stereotypical and erroneous newspaper coverage of Indian issues and Indian people shows it, said Marsh.

Estimates of the number of Native Americans working at daily newspapers range up to about 300 � out of about 55,000 journalists nationwide.

According to Marsh, director of the institute, students will take a concentrated academic program teaching the basics of journalism in a university-approved course titled "Journalism Theory and Practice."

Students will concentrate for one week each on reporting, editing and photography. Weekly field trips will introduce students to other aspects of journalism. Faculty and guest presenters will include professional journalists who are Native American. Each student will have a single room in a dormitory. Meals will be provided on campus.

AIJI is an alcohol-free and drug-free program. From the program's start on June 6 until graduation on June 25, AIJI students are prohibited from any use of alcohol or illegal drugs. Violators will be expelled.

Participants may be nominated by educators, mentors or other interested parties. Nominations should be made in the form of a letter addressed to: Jack Marsh, executive director, Al Neuharth Media Center, 555 N. Dakota St., Vermillion, SD 57069.

Nomination letters should include brief explanations of why nominees should be accepted into the institute and how they can be contacted. Nominees then will be invited to provide further information about themselves and examples of their writing, including an essay about why they want to attend. Self-nominations also are welcome, as are nominations by e-mail (jmarsh@freedomforum.org).

Nomination letters should be received by March 29. Students should be able to provide proof of tribal enrollment or lineage, if requested.

For further information, call Marsh at 605-677-6315.

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