Last updated: August 08. 2014 8:47PM - 418 Views

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As the nation’s media landscape continues to change in the digital age it has become increasingly important to encourage and develop the next generation of journalists.

Although the Internet is full of aggregation sites, blogs, citizen journalists and opinion pieces tailored to almost every ideology, what is often lost are the foundational principles of fair, accurate, objective and accountable journalism that the Founding Fathers were so careful to protect with the First Amendment.

Beginning last year the Democrat entered into a partnership with former Editor Bob Satnan, now the communications director and journalism instructor for Sedalia School District 200. This partnership — dubbed the Rookie Reporter Program — saw students develop and produce news, feature and opinion pieces that were then published in the Democrat.

Reader response was overwhelmingly positive and we were impressed by the level of skill exhibited by Smith-Cotton High School students.

Over the summer we have refined and expanded upon our Rookie Reporter Program, including partnering with the Reynolds Journalism Institute through the journalism program at the University of Missouri-Columbia. It is our hope that in the coming months and years we can continue to build upon this foundation, both as a means to encourage students to consider journalism as an education and career field as well as a means of giving select students real world job experience that should benefit them regardless of the path they choose in life.

As we prepare for the first day of school, and a new flock of student journalists, the Democrat was able to expand its first day coverage of the 112th Missouri State Fair this year with the addition of Cierra Jennings, Heather Patrick and Sarah Skrzypczak.

These young ladies joined Satnan and Democrat Editor Dennis Rich on the fairgrounds Thursday morning for a short class on newsgathering and interview techniques, then set off to find and create their own stories centered around the fair’s theme of youth in agriculture.

We want to pause to thank them for their time, attention and effort and for their interest in helping tell the stories that help make the Missouri State Fair such an essential part of our local character and culture.

To them and all our prospective S-C rookies, keep up the good work. And to our readers, keep an eye out for bylined stories attributed to Democrat Rookie Reporters.

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