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Capital News Service secures funding from Virginia Press Foundation

Oct 3, 2018

Posted in: News

Reporters of the VCU Capital News Service covered the inauguration of Gov. Ralph Northam in January 2018 for news organizations throughout Virginia.

The foundation that supports the Virginia Press Association will give $5,000 to the VCU Capital News Service program for 2019. CNS, a student-staffed newswire operated by the Robertson School, will use the money to expand and enhance its coverage of state government, politics and other topics.

The board of the Virginia Press Foundation voted in September to provide the funding. With the gift, CNS will offer coverage of the Virginia General Assembly and other news to all interested VPA members.

Betsy Edwards, the executive director of the VPA, said the goal of the partnership is to “provide timely legislative content to community papers across Virginia.”

Associate Professor Jeff South, who oversees CNS, said the gift will benefit VPA members and their readers. “Our plan is to generate additional localized coverage – news tailored to specific communities,” he said.

Students also will benefit, South said. CNS helps them build portfolios for landing internships and jobs.

CNS, which was created in 1994 and has won more than 35 awards in state, regional and national journalism contests, currently serves about 90 news outlets in Virginia, including daily newspapers, weekly papers, broadcast stations and digital publications. The service is free; news organizations do not pay to receive the CNS feed.

The Associated Press distributes select CNS stories to its clients throughout the U.S. and the world. As a result, students’ stories have been published by The Washington Post, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and many other leading news organizations.

In Spring 2018, CNS distributed more than 270 stories, and The AP picked up more than 75 of them. Because a story usually is published by multiple outlets, students collectively amassed more than 1,000 “clips” for their portfolios. In addition, CNS publishes on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms.

CNS plans to use the VPA money to fund:

  • More requests for documents and data from state agencies under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
  • Student travel to cover stories outside Richmond and to talk to community-news editors about their needs and their readers’ interests.
  • The purchase of additional cameras and other equipment for newsgathering.

News organizations may sign up to receive the CNS feed by contacting South at jcsouth@vcu.edu.