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Merrill students produce professional-caliber reporting on myriad topics every day. Below are a selection of some of the top reporting packages created as class projects in the Merrill College.
Baltimore Urban Affairs Reporting Projects
Each semester, students in the college's Urban Affairs Reporting class (JOUR327) use Baltimore as a laboratory to cover issues of importance to cities. The class is taught by Sandy Banisky, Merrill's Abell Professor in Baltimore Journalism, a former deputy managing editor of The Baltimore Sun.
The class is organized like a newsroom project team. Students develop story ideas and meet with residents, elected officials, business people and community leaders to produce a comprehensive, multi-platform report on a different topic each semester. Increasingly, the projects are done collaboratively with other classes in the college.
The stories, photos, videos and graphics that the students produce are distributed on the CNS (Capital News Service) wire and have been published by news organizations around the state.
Projects by Semester
Fall 2013 - Stuck in Transit: Baltimore's Public Transportation Woes: For decades, the jobs that many Baltimoreans rely on have been moving to the suburbs. But most of the region's transit routes haven't been changed since before the Maryland Transit Administration took over local bus service in 1971. This project looks at the state of transportation in Baltimore today and possible solutions for the future including smart phones and streetcars.
Summer 2013 - Sea Level Rise in Maryland: Sea levels are rising worldwide, but they’re rising two to three times faster in the Chesapeake Bay. A new semester-long investigative project coordinated by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Capital News Service (CNS) shows that sea level rise is putting major coastal areas of the state of Maryland at risk – including some of the state’s most iconic places — Fells Point in Baltimore, Harriet Tubman’s birthplace, and Fort McHenry, home of the national anthem. Students from the Baltimore Urban Affairs class were part of this in-depth investigation that saw wide coverage throughout the state and region.
Fall 2012 - Locust Point: A Changing Waterfront. While Baltimore has been losing population, waterfront neighborhoods like Locust Point have been growing – and attracting younger, more affluent residents who don't work at the port. But the growth has created some tensions – between industry and developers and between oldtime residents and newcomers. (produced in collaboration with the college's Capital News Service advanced reporting program.)
Spring 2012 - Maryland Families: Falling Behind. The number of Maryland families who need government help to make ends meet has reached record levels. More than 700,000 people receive food assistance, the most in state history. A record 70,000 people depend on emergency cash assistance. Yet state and federal officials are budgeting less money for the safety net in the coming fiscal year. The move reflects the government's confidence in the economic recovery. (Done in conjunction with Senior Lecturer Deborah Nelson's Advanced Public Affairs Reporting/Investigative Reporting class.)
Fall 2011 - Can Art Change Baltimore? Ten years after the state designated Station North an arts and entertainment district, city leaders say it’s too soon to know. And even the biggest boosters advise that art can’t fix all Baltimore’s ills. But in a city whose residents have struggled for years to find a way to stabilize neighborhoods, some city leaders hope art can stoke the economy and help improve Baltimore life.
Spring 2011 - Juvenile Justice in Baltimore City. In Baltimore alone, 4,700 cases were filed in 2010 in the city's Juvenile Justice Center. Meanwhile, as legislators and advocates argue over how to fix the system, about 160,000 youths -- some under arrest, some victims of abuse, some in foster care -- troop through the state system every year.
Fall 2010 - Searching for Healthy Food. In a city plagued with high rates of obesity, heart disease and stroke, Baltimoreans know they should be eating better. But in many neighborhoods, burger joints and corner stores are the only sources of food. Now, in a variety of ways, Baltimoreans are trying to make it easier for more people to find healthier foods.
Summer 2010 - More Than a Game: The Orioles and Baltimore. What does it mean to a city when its once proud baseball team loses season after season?
Spring 2010 - East Baltimore: Ten Years Later. Biotech has not proved the answer for creating jobs and attracting residents to the new neighborhood. With construction stalled on the biotech park that was forecast to create 8,000 jobs, leaders of the redevelopment project now are looking for another economic anchor for the neighborhood.
Fall 2009 - Reclaiming a Neighborhood: The Revitalization of Baltimore's East Side. East Baltimore Development Inc. has relocated more than 800 families over the last eight years as it begins to rebuild a struggling neighborhood -- and create a new community -- just north of the Johns Hopkins medical campus.
Produced by University of Maryland students under the Abell Initiative in Baltimore Journalism.
Cancer Patient Salons
Merrill master's student Jenny Kay Paulson produced a multimedia package with text, video and photos on salon services offered by hospitals to cancer patients. The package appeared on the front page of the Washington Post's health section.
Experts Question Spill Preparedness in Chesapeake
Merrill News21 Fellow Sharon Behn found that many Chesapeake Bay scientists and experts are unaware of detailed plans and scenarios for a quick-fire response to an oil spill in the Bay. They say that a fast reaction to a spill or leak is essential to stop oil from spreading in the shallow bay and reaching the shores, further damaging an already fragile ecosystem.
Her report is part of a summer-long project of 10 reporters and a group of faculty editors focused on the Bay under the theme Chesapeake: Bay on the Brink. It is part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, a consortium of 12 of the top journalism schools in the country.
The New Voters: Identity and U.S. Politics
Just 40 years after rioters took to the streets of Chicago displaying their anger over the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Hussein Obama stood before thousands of jubilant supporters in the city’s Grant Park and became the first non-white male to claim victory in a U.S. presidential election.
The country had changed. During the summer of 2009, 12 University of Maryland journalism fellows probed what they came to see as the fastest-growing and least understood sets of voters -- Latinos, mixed-race and youth -- to find out how.
Their work, edited by a team of University of Maryland faculty advisors, is a part of the national News21 journalism program.
When Iceland succumbed to the global financial crisis, the world watched the once wealthy nation fall suddenly into massive debt, fleecing the people of an over-the-top luxurious lifestyle they had lived during a recent 10-year banking boom.
Just last year the remote island in the North Atlantic had ranked first in standard of living in the world, according to a United Nations' report, before October 2008 hit. Unable to stave off creditors, the country's three largest banks collapsed under billions of dollars of bad debt, forcing government takeover and saddling every man, woman and child with more than $300,000 of debt.
As the Merrill College class in international reporting arrived in Reykjavik in March 2009, they discovered just what that meant to Iceland's ordinary people. In a matter of months, the value of the krona, the Icelandic currency, plummeted 50 percent, one in 10 Icelanders lost their jobs in a land where unemployment virtually had not previously existed and food prices increased by more than 12 percent.
Many Americans see ‘Vietnam’ and read ‘war’ and ‘communism.’ But the dozen students from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland who traveled to Hanoi in March 2008 discovered a country drastically different than the Vietnam their parents knew.
The students traveled in and around the ancient capital of Hanoi to find a story of development and of regulation. They chronicled how the burgeoning population, more than 60 percent of which is 30 or younger, increasingly dominates Vietnamese society while undoing the deep poverty that plagued the country during and after the Vietnam War.