StarPhoenix News Bureau Opens at U of S
by Paul Martin Photo Caption: Reporter & columnist, Kathryn Warden
Quote: "We're keeping quite good records of the coverage because we've been asked by our professional groups nationally and internationally for reports..."
The StarPhoenix, Saskatoon's daily newspaper, and the University of Saskatchewan have embarked on a project being watched by the newspaper industry and universities throughout North America. Last fall the newspaper opened a news bureau on the campus, the first of its kind on the continent. StarPhoenix reporter and columnist Kathryn Warden, a member of the Green & White editorial advisory board and a veteran journalist who spent time in the Calgary Herald and Toronto Star newsrooms, has become the beat reporter assigned to University of Saskatchewan coverage.
The experiment, says Warden, has already exceeded her expectations. Often she'll arrive at the office to find a dozen messages on her voice mail. They come from every corner of the campus, people who wouldn't traditionally call the newsroom, she adds.
The one-year trial has already resulted in more diversified coverage of the university scene, according to Warden, who spent two years at the U of S before moving onto Waterloo where she finished her degree. "It's a huge beat."
However, she is quick to add that she covers stories of all types, ones that may enhance the university's reputation but she's also stumbled onto some less-than-flattering items by being housed on campus. Suzanne Cornforth, director of the university's Public Relations Office, says the level of coverage has gone up significantly since the SP opened its on-campus bureau. Stories on research, for example, are now finding a home in the newspaper.
"We're keeping quite good records of the coverage because we've been asked by our professional groups nationally and internationally for reports," Cornforth says of the experiment.
The newspaper rents office space in Kirk Hall. Warden says the location - away from the administration offices - helps maintain the image of newspaper independence from university management.
The concept was first advanced by senior management at the StarPhoenix. News organizations have long operated bureaus in Legislatures or on Parliament Hill but this is the first time its been tried on a campus. "I think it's making a difference," says Warden. "I think the paper and the community are richer for it." Many university cities have news reporters assigned to the university beat but never has one been actually housed on campus, in the midst of the stories.