The Lake Voice staff are asking readers to get out and show how they have fun in Duluth by posting a picture at #Five3Duluth on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
Duluth is filled with exciting events every day. The people are unique, and have their very own brand of tough, especially with the winter we’ve been having. With UMD being connected by corridors, it can be hard for students to get off campus and immerse themselves in Duluth. Lake Voice News is focused on bridging that gap.
Lake Voice News is a three-credit class that is offered in the journalism department. It is a publication that is completely student run; the content is all produced by students, with the exception of content provided by John Hatcher, the faculty advisor and publisher.
“I didn’t want to replicate what the Statesman does; I wanted it to be a project that served the community. My research and work is in community journalism, I really wanted it to get students out into the community to find the stories,” Hatcher said.
Bridging the Gap
Aloysia Power, current editor-in-chief, spent a day on the DTA asking passengers why everyone on the bus is so quiet and reserved. “I didn’t know what I was going after. I grabbed a recorder and hopped on a bus, but I like to challenge myself as far as story writing goes. So I interviewed a bunch of people, and they were all kind of awkward. Everyone saw my recorder and asked what it was; someone even thought it was a taser. I got to ask people why everyone sits in their own seat and no one chats, and really get into the bus-riding community,” said Power.
Power is just one example of the way Lake Voice staff gets out into the Duluth community. This semester, as in past years, Lake Voice is working with Reporting and Writing II classes to get content from the students. “They’re gold. We get a lot of stories from them, and they seem really eager and have great ideas,” said Power.
However, this year’s Lake Voice team is also working with Lake Superior High School. “Two girls go to the high school once a week. They help the students try to come up with ideas for stories and help out with the stories they are writing. We’ve had our first high school submission at Lake Voice this semester,” said Power.
The community outreach goes even further than that, though. Daniel Badhwa has written multiple pieces on homelessness in Duluth, and those stories are some of the most popular on the Lake Voice website. Badhwa delved into a part of the community that most don’t see, writing profiles about different members of Duluth’s homeless community. One of his many memorable pieces focuses on Steve Gallagher and his dog, Kahn. Badhwa also created a recording to accompany his story profiling Ed Smith, a tenant at the Seaway Hotel.
For a final project, part of the Lake Voice team in the fall semester went out into the community and asked what citizens would change about Duluth, and what they would want to stay the same. The team received many ideas for change including: more services for the homeless, more jobs, higher wages, parking, and roads. However, when asked, they wanted to keep the kindness in Duluth, the expansion of the Lake Walk, historical buildings, and Mayor Don Ness. With those clips, team members created a short video to go along with their story.
Duluth Community News
When Professor John Hatcher started at UMD in 2007, he was told he was teaching a class called Editing 2: Newsroom Practicum, which meant he’d be teaching people how to interact and work in a real, working newsroom.
“I read the course description and I thought ‘well, how am I going to do that?’ and the only way I could think to do that was to create a newsroom,” John Hatcher said. “I wasn’t sure where, or how, to create it. The library had this blog system called UThink that was run through the main library, so I created this website called Duluth Community News that was just going to be a placeholder for it.”
Hatcher’s first class was really small, only about four students. In the beginning, the students and Hatcher would take content that students in a different class had written and edit and get them online. “We didn’t really have images or hyperlinks. It was very simple, very low-key,” Hatcher said. “Sometimes we’d have a good week, where 10 people looked at our site.”
That was the format for two semesters. Later, with help from the technology department in CLA, the publication was moved to WordPress. At the same time, it was decided Duluth Community News needed a new name. “We went round and round about it. We posted on Perfect Duluth Day, students came up with different names, and it was back and forth. I didn’t like any of them, so I went on the Library of Congress website, and it has a list of every publication that’s ever been in Duluth. One of them early on was a French publication called Voix du Lac, which means the voice of the lake and I thought ‘Lake Voice. We’ll try it,’” Hatcher explained.
Now, Lake Voice has a whole new dynamic. It has its very own office, located in Cina Hall, for the first time. The staff meets weekly for a budget meeting and to get together as a group. During that meeting, they go over past content and discuss how to increase readership and get stronger with every issue.
This year is different. It’s the first year that Lake Voice will be year-round. Fall 2013 was the first time that Lake Voice was offered in a semester other than spring, and it will be offered for the first time as an online summer course.
“In past years, our readership would be strong during the spring semester, but over the summer it would just drop,” Hatcher noted. “We only offered the class once a year, and it was hard to build that readership up every year. Readers depend on you, and when you drop off the face of the earth for a couple months, it’s hard to get them back.”
This is also the first year that Lake Voice is taking students outside of the Writing Studies program. Students from all majors, who want experience in writing and editing, can join. It allows for a whole new team dynamic, and many different ways of looking at the Duluth community.
Doing Things Differently
“Most classes are really structured, and you don’t really have the power to restructure that yourself,” Power said. “But I’ll go to Hatcher and I’ll say ‘hey, what do you think about this idea?’ and he’ll give me feedback and vice versa. I’ve never had that much power over what I’m learning in class like I have with Lake Voice. I work with the teacher to design it. It’s power over my education, and it’s different.”
Simply put, every Lake Voice class does it a little bit differently. Being a student-run publication, it is easy to have input and to make Lake Voice what they want it to be. Each student is given their own job, or team, depending on how Lake Voice is set up, but it’s usually something they enjoy doing or want to improve on. This motivates students to do well, and to make sure that they are contributing to Lake Voice’s success.
“We all help each other out. We started a story idea board, in case anyone is struggling one week and we’re always thinking of stories. I work one on one with the staff a lot, to make sure we have good content and good writing,” Power said.
Lake Voice is focused on bringing students closer to Duluth and getting them into the community. It allows for real journalistic experience and for students to have power in their own education. Although Lake Voice may not be as noisy or busy as a typical newsroom, it does give students a chance to learn journalism, and it has a team that is ready to delve into Duluth.
|Lake Voice's Spring 2014 staff.||The first Fall semester Lake Voice staff, Fall 2013|
|Lake Voice staff, Spring 2013||Spring 2012 Lake Voice team|
|Lake Voice staff, Spring 2011||Spring 2010 Lake Voice team|
Written by Brilynn Janckila, April 2014.