The Collaborative NewsLab at Kent State University is an experiential and collaborative news commons that links Media and Journalism students with professional media partners in Northeast Ohio. 

NewsLab provides Kent State journalism students with real-world experiences through mostly paid internships, while also connecting under-resourced professional media partners with quality, reliable coverage focused on local communities and issues. 

How It Works:  

NewsLab serves as a bureau where students will report and work on a variety of community-impacted stories. With help from Associate Professor Susan Kirkman Zake, who serves as faculty newsroom adviser to The Kent Stater, KentWired and TV2, students that are interested will publish for multiple local news outlets such as The Portager, The Land and WKSU, depending on what type of a medium a student is most interested in. 

More than 70 stories by 11 student reporters were published in more than 15 news outlets statewide from 2020-2021, the first year of NewsLab’s existence. The relationship between student reporters and news partners has strengthened the reputation of these news organizations and increased the hands-on experience that students need to perform as a reporter in the field. Students who are interested in reporting and working in a newsroom are able to achieve a fuller experience from the journalism program and a connection to professional careers. 

Success Story: NewsLab’s Impact 

Paige Bennett Headshot
Alumna Paige Bennett, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2020. Bennett was an intern in the early days of NewsLab and covered issues for The Land, a local news startup that reports on Cleveland's neighborhoods and inner ring suburbs. Reporting at a neighborhood level allowed her to develop expert public policy reporting skills. In November, she was hired as a full-time reporter at the Canton Repository, a small daily newspaper in Northeast Ohio. 

“Working for NewsLab provided me with valuable experience that allowed me to use the reporting skills I developed in my classes and Student Media,” Bennett said. “I covered a variety of issues, ranging from housing development to local government. NewsLab helped significantly in my job search because I was able to show potential employers I had real-world reporting experience.” 

The goals of NewsLab include building up journalists and media-savvy citizens in underserved communities, and to offer opportunities for students who want to pursue journalism careers and align them with the needs and demands of newsrooms lacking in BIPOC representation.  

The reach and impact of partner organizations include: 

  • The Portager readership: 54,000 e-newsletter readers per month  
  • The Land readership: 17,000 unique visitors per month 
  • WKSU audience online: 17,000 unique visitors per month 
  • Your Voice Ohio: 59 news outlets involving print, online and broadcast media 
  • KentWired.com: 45,000 unique visitors per month