Fox News gives students national voice

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NEW YORK -- When the devastating Southern California wildfires became big national news over the weekend, Fox News Channel was able to bring a different perspective.

The channel’s coverage included on-the-scene reports from Malibu and San Diego thanks to the efforts of college student journalists whose pieces for thePalestra.com have appeared on Fox News Channel and FoxNews.com.

Pepperdine University student Stefan Holt -- son of NBC News correspondent Lester Holt -- and University of San Diego student Shelby Holliday reported about evacuations at their schools and interviewed students who were affected.

It’s the first pieces in a content partnership between Fox News and thePalestra.com, a 3-year-old Web site that, among other things, features student-produced video reports aimed at the millennial generation. The reports from more than 100 schools nationwide are sent to thePalestra’s headquarters at Ohio State University and edited there by graduate-level student journalists. The ones for Fox News are reviewed by Fox News producers.

Fox News senior vp development Joel Cheatwood said Tuesday that the content will appear on Fox News Channel and online, depending on the news. A story last week that appeared on “The Fox Report With Shepard Smith” was about a 59-year-old student who made the football team this year at his small Texas college. It was Cheatwood, a former CNN executive, who began working with thePalestra.com when he worked at CNN.

ThePalestra.com -- which comes from a Greek word meaning a public training and practice place -- was co-founded by former NBC affiliate sports anchor and Ohio State professor Joe Weasel. Weasel said thePalestra.com was founded to create content that would appeal to the millennial generation.

“There was a great opportunity to tap into a section of the (cable news) audience that we really don’t get to touch very often,” Cheatwood said. “The amazing thing is that they are absolutely information junkies. They just don’t seek out traditional delivery mechanisms.”

Cheatwood and Weasel said the network would be incorporating content from thePalestra.com in its programs, though it’s still in development.

“We’re looking for the stories that they can provide their unique perspective on,” Cheatwood said.
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