Behind the Byline
LSU Manship Students Share Their Experiences Reporting on the State Legislature
As state legislators convene at the Louisiana State Capitol for the regular legislative session, a group of LSU students will be watching and writing as journalists. Thanks to the Manship School News Service Statehouse Bureau, their stories will be published throughout the state and even the country. The program is only two years old, but the students’ reports have been published in newspapers like USA Today.
The program was started by Jay Shelledy, the Fred Jones Greer Jr. Chair in Media Business and Ethics and director of the Manship School News Service; Martin Johnson, the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Jerry Ceppos; and dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication.
“Well for one thing, this is an era where papers are drawing back from state house coverage and radio stations seldom had anybody and television coverage is very spotty. So, this was an opportunity to let the students have first-hand experience and fulfill a need out there,” Shelledy said.
The Statehouse Bureau is part of the Manship School of Mass Communication’s field experience class, which is taught every semester.
“You have to be able to write and you have to do pretty well in the class. And you have to have some interest in news,” Shelledy said.
Statehouse Bureau students provide stories to newspapers throughout the state. The stories could be assigned by the newspapers or they are stories the students’ enterprise themselves. The program feeds 15 daily and 21 weekly newspapers, as well as several radio stations. While covering the regular legislative session last year, Statehouse Bureau student reporters filed more than 400 stories.
Shelledy admits the work is grueling but adds, “It’s also pretty rewarding too, to see your name in newspapers. It’s really neat.”
After graduating from LSU, many Statehouse Bureau participants have pursued careers in journalism, while others have continued their education in law school or graduate school.