Nebraska Mosaic launches newsletter, engages with audience

Nebraska Mosaic launches newsletter, engages with audience

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 9:30am
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Nebraska Mosaic provides journalism students a capstone experience reporting on real issues facing the refugee community in Lincoln, Nebraska.

by Savanah Baker and Michelle Hassler

Students in the Nebraska Mosaic course launched an e-newsletter this semester to help them engage their audiences and offer an alternative way to deliver news and information.

Nebraska Mosaic students produce stories for and about Lincoln’s refugees and immigrants. The stories are published on the Nebraska Mosaic website (nemosaic.org).

The newsletter is part of a concerted effort to increase engagement with these diverse communities, said assistant professor Michelle Hassler, who teaches the journalism capstone course. Students also are actively posting to Nebraska Mosaic’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and are developing engagement strategies for upcoming stories.

Nebraska Mosaic students promoted their work at the Oct. 30 “Samples of the World” event that attracted more than 200 people at a Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Lincoln. The event was a fundraiser for the Good Neighbor Community Center, which provides services for the city’s refugees.

Hassler helps prepare the students for what they will encounter by first assigning them to write about their own family’s immigration to the United States. However, the impact on students of working with the refugee communities is meaningful, Hassler said.

A former student agreed.

“I wrote a story about one of my former classmates whose family came to America as refugees from Bosnia,” said Michaela Mapes, a CoJMC alumna, in an email interview. “The process of telling her story taught me so much about the resilience and strength required of those who are forced to flee their country.”

“I learned a lot more about how to encapsulate someone's experiences - successes, heartbreaks, tragedies, triumphs and all - in a story for reader consumption.”

A 2010 New Voices grant gave UNL $25,000 to establish the Nebraska Mosaic site and begin outreach to the refugee communities. Students in the college's advertising program researched the information needs of the refugee community and how best to reach them, while students in the journalism program generated content for the site.

Nebraska Mosaic was founded by professor Tim Anderson, who retired last year. Since the website launched in 2011, students have told more than 300 stories about refugees, the importance which was not lost on Mapes.

“Mosaic affirmed my belief in the importance of stories and truth-telling in journalism and taught me how important practice and persistence are in improving writing and interviewing skills so as to tell those stories properly, to do our best to give them the gravity they deserve,” Mapes said.

To receive the Nebraska Mosaic newsletter, you can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/cgfggv.