March 23, 2007
CBS News Contest Provides Venue for Student Journalists, with the Winner Getting a Summer Internship with Katie Couric

Speaking of user-generated news, as I wrote about earlier today with Wired's Assignment Zero project, CBS has created an interesting initiative of its own to get students involved in the journalism project.

This past week, CBS' news division made the announcement that it would be soliciting user-generated content from college students for a contest called Springboard, with the winner receiving an internship this summer with Katie Couric, the famed host of the CBS Evening News.

Contest submissions can include both video and text and sponsored not only by CBS's online news site but also by U-WIRE, the College Sports Television news service that links together more than 800 colleges and universities to report college news stories by college students.

The deadline for the project is looming on the horizon--April 7--and the winner will be traveling to New York for the summer. The announcement will come at the end of April. According to the official site from CBS, qualified print and video entrants will be posted online after decisions have been made.

The student journalists are given three potential topics to cover, all of which provide the chance for both local coverage but leading to issues of national importance. The most "feature-y" of the three categories is entitled American spirit (perhaps also the least politically charged), inviting students to report on "a local 'social entrepreneur,' someone who is trying to bring a creative solution to a longstanding social, economic or community challenge."

The other two potential topics are local issues relating to climate change and veterans of the Iraq war.

Interested readers are asked not just to look at the stories but also to comment and rate them, potentially assisting in the evaluation of which stories will win the CBS contest. The Web site implies that all stories which successfully complete the requirements of the project will be posted.

So far, one story has been posted for the American Spirit category, Bob Spoerl's story about opposition to the war in Iraq.

The other two categories only include a sample at this point, but the contest has only recently launched, so I would assume a variety of content will be appearing in the coming weeks.

Submission guidelines are available here.

This project interests me both because of its call for student work but also for the potential in having readers help make the decisions as to which stories are the best. It's hard to guess how much the decision-makers will actually take reader opinions under consideration, but it does help the aspiring writers see firsthand comments and reaction to the stories they submit.

Either way, whether the students submitting stories win or not, the promise of having an international reader base looking at their local stories and even reacting and commenting on them should be quite an incentive in itself, finding a way to let local stories be heard.