Students stake claim to Echo front page

A new weekly page compiled by local students for the Sunderland Echo has given the paper two splashes in its first two weeks.

Postgraduate students on the journalism MA course at Sunderland University were invited to contribute stories for a new page called On Campus.

In the first week, student Gary Martin came up with an exclusive about students gambling their loans at casinos in order to meet rent and tuition fees. Not only did it make the front page of the Echo, but it was also picked up by the national press.

It was followed this week by a story from Mieka Louise Schmidt revealing that a police campaign had been launched after an increase in the number of drinks being spiked.

Echo news editor Patrick Lavelle said: “We were hoping to get some copy in the main body of the paper. We weren’t expecting two page one leads in as many weeks.

“The student gambling and spiked drinks stories were the strongest stories on the day.”

He added: “They get experience of writing for a newspaper and some cuttings and we actually get some decent stories from them and the opportunity to do some talent-spotting.”

The MA course, which has 36 students, aims to provide a vocational route into the industry and has provisionally been accredited by the NCTJ. It is being taught in the university’s new £9m media centre.

The university has also forged links with the BBC, enabling BA and MA students to contribute to BBC Wear Online and sports journalists to contribute to the BBC’s football website for Tyneside.

By Dominic Ponsford

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