Howard University News Service (HUNS), established in 2001 trains student journalists to provide hyperlocal news an alternative news source to counter media deserts and severe lack of diverse news coverage. Senior-level journalism students provide multimedia stories under the supervision of professional journalists and professors in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film at Howard University. As a free wire service, HUNS primarily serves the 200 African-American weeklies that are members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) with coverage of national and local events in and around the Washington area, including Congress and the White House, as well as issues of interest to multicultural audiences.
On Nov. 17, 2001, Howard University’s Department of Journalism launched an online news and information source under the name BlackCollegeView.com. It became the anchor project for the department’s Converged Media Lab, created with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) through one of the oldest professional-collegiate partnerships that now also includes the Trice-Edney News Wire. BlackCollegeView.com was relaunched as the Howard University News Service (HUNewsService.com) when it ramped up to cover the 2008 presidential election.
The HU News Service team has won numerous awards, including Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards; Hearst Journalism Awards; National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Salute to Excellence Awards; and NABJ Student Chapter of the Year, Student of the Year and Educator of the Year. The news service has been praised for its coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 presidential election and the 2009 inauguration. The converged media team for the election produced more than 80 print articles, hundreds of photos, a dozen blogs, and 20 video and audio packages. Reporters who returned to their hometowns to vote, including New York, Chicago, Detroit and Wilmington, added a national dimension and provided real-time coverage of President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory speech, filing via cell phones and using Twitter. In some cases, the student journalists filed ahead of national news organizations.
In addition to the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention, converged teams have covered subsequent presidential and midterm elections, the lead crisis in Flint, Mich.; the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.; the Women’s March; the March on Washington’ and the 50th anniversaries of Brown v. the Board of Education and the sit-in movement in Greensboro, N.C. “From Black Power to Black Sunday: Student Activism in the Nation’s Capital” was one of 14 student packages included in the “Eyes on the Prize” Black College New Media Project, underwritten by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
HU News service content has been used by the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, CNN iReport, BlackAmericaWeb.com, Human Nature magazine, Heart & Soul magazine, Trentonian.com and many of the 200 NNPA newspapers, including the Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, the Washington Informer, the Los Angeles Sentinel and the Chicago Defender.
We have made a difference since our inception as a department in the School of Communications since 1971. Howard is still one of the leading producers of black journalists. In 2008, we successfully transitioned from the student-focused Black College View website to Howard News Service, hunewsservice.com, a hyperlocal news website that has covered presidential elections. For several years, HUNS has had a content partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). Under the direction of a professional journalist instructor, student stories are being picked up by NNPA papers across the United States.
For two years in a row, USA Today and College Factual ranked the journalism program among the top 20 nationally, and the National Association of Black Journalists ranked the program as No. 1 in the United States. It has also received several Hearst Awards — the collegiate equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize — honored a broadcast journalism major with a third-place award in radio news in the national championships, the only HBCU to receive such recognition.