Local Journalism: Doing the Work That Matters

student head shot and paper logo

Local Journalism: Doing the Work That Matters

Senior journalism major Kaitlyn Wilkes stressed the importance of local journalism after her summer experience researching and writing hyper local Austin news for Community Impact Newspaper.

“And I knew that because, like, I grew up watching the news, but being able to implement what I had learned in class, but also kind of see how much the people at Community Impact care about what they do, the passion that they put into their thing, and how much the readers of Community Impact care about what we write about. It was like a total game changer,” Wilkes said.

With the funding of the Dallas Morning News Journalism Innovation Endowment and the guidance of Professor Christian McDonald, Wilkes was able to write more in depth pieces that focused on local Austin topics such as transportation development updates, real estate features, and natural disaster preparation. 

Wilkes said that seeing and experiencing the impact of her work has been rewarding.

“You see how your work impacts people. But then also you get to…implement the things that you learn in a class in a real-world setting,” Wilkes said. She shared that knowing it will go out to the public is a constant presence in her mind.

“So I wanted to do an even better job than I would in class because, you know, the people are relying on me to tell the story.”

Amy Denney, managing editor at the Austin Metro for Community Impact, shared her appreciation for the innovation Wilkes and other UT students continue to bring to the newspaper.

“I've been a journalist for 15 years, and I've done things the same way for 15 years. And so hearing their perspective and thinking, ‘Wow, I didn't even think about that before.’ It has just been really rewarding and has, you know, helped me to improve and look at things differently and I welcome the innovation that they bring,” Denney said.

Wilkes further expressed the importance of Community Impact’s work in attending meetings and events that not all Austinites can take the time to attend.

“Luckily, we have reporters who go to those meetings, look at the agenda items, see which one can be potentially important,” Wilkes said.

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