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NM Press Association Foundation grant expands NMSU journalism project

Blending high tech and old school, New Mexico State University?s journalism department and the more than a century old New Mexico Press Association are partnering to help students and working professionals expand their skills.


Kokopelli, which means ?storyteller,? is a multimedia online publication started earlier this year where students can publish their video, audio, photos and words. This month, NMSU?s journalism department in the College of Arts and Sciences received a $7,500 grant from the New Mexico Press Association Foundation to fund the Kokopelli project.

?We anticipate this being a mutually beneficial agreement,? said Richard Coltharp, immediate past president of NMPA and publisher of the Las Cruces Bulletin. ?Also, we?re hoping we can have a training session of regional journalists come to campus to learn from the department. A lot of what they?re doing here is something that existing journalism graduates never had the opportunity to go through. So why not have the people who are on the cutting edge teach the old dogs new tricks, so to speak.?

The website is still a work in progress, but Lourdes Cardenas, NMSU multimedia professor and faculty adviser, believes thanks to the grant from NMPA, it has the potential to be a professional website where students can showcase their work. She teaches students to use various software programs they might need when producing a news story.

?As a multimedia publishing student, I was one of the first people that got a chance to publish on the Kokopelli website,? said Ada Ciuca, NMSU journalism major. ?It was awesome to be involved in its beginnings, and the fact that we got to publish our works for more people than just our class to see was really rewarding. We put a lot of work into our multimedia packages.?

Coltharp and Frank Leto, NMPA board member and publisher of the Las Cruces Sun-News, presented the grant award to Hwiman Chung, journalism department head, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Christa Slaton at the department?s Multimedia Center Oct. 20.

Launched in fall 2013, the department?s multimedia center includes a studio for producing podcasts, a soundproof audio booth and a broadcast studio with an anchor desk. The center also contains a computer lab with 20 Macs equipped with video-producing software.

?We are thankful for the confidence the NMPAF board has in our university and our journalism department,? Slaton said. ?We?ve got extraordinary alumni across the country. We?ve also added the Spanish-speaking component to our department and created the multimedia lab because we think this is the future of journalism, and to have the support that we have is really phenomenal.?

Both the Las Cruces Bulletin and the Las Cruces Sun-News have employed a number of graduates from NMSU?s journalism department.

The New Mexico Press Association Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to journalism education. According to its website, NMPAF supports the Scholastic Press Association, assists students in finding college internships, promotes ongoing journalism education through annual scholarships and hosts a high school journalism workshop each summer.

?NMPA?s goal is to help provide students with more experience in writing and multimedia,? Chung said.

As part of the funding agreement, NMPA has invited NMSU?s journalism department to attend next year?s annual convention to present a panel on multimedia and explain how the NMPAF funding is being used.

?We believe in the future of journalism and we believe the steps NMSU is taking are a positive direction for the future of journalism,? Coltharp said.

To learn more about Kokopelli, visit http://kokopelli-nmsu.com.