U-WIRE, Hatchet form Washington bureau

In a move that will provide college students expanded coverage of national higher education issues, The GW Hatchet signed a contract late last week to operate the Washington bureau of the University Wire, the collegiate equivalent of the Associated Press.

U-WIRE is a wire service that provides more than 450 college and university newspapers with campus news from around the country. It also appears on USA Today’s Web site and in several other spots in cyberspace.

“The bureau was good timing,” said U-WIRE Editor Lori Merency. “With The Hatchet in the hub of activity, it’s a great resource and opportunity to localize national politics.”

The bureau officially opened Monday, culminating four months of discussions between Merency, U-WIRE founder Mike Lazerow and The Hatchet.

“The Hatchet will become a legitimate source for Washington news,” said Hatchet News Editor Matt Berger, who is coordinating the bureau. “Students get experience working as Washington correspondents and colleges around the country get Washington news geared toward students.”

Merency said in the past, U-WIRE attempted to establish a Washington bureau through Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, but the project was quickly phased out. She said the decision to create a Washington bureau was part of a plan to expand the resources U-WIRE provides to students.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something that involves student journalists around the country. I think we’re helping to take student media to a new level,” said Hatchet Editor in Chief Becky Neilson. The Hatchet has been a member of U-WIRE for a year and a half.

U-WIRE editors have expressed interest in issues such as higher education, financial aid, tobacco legislation, the minimum wage and the impeachment proceedings. The new bureau already has covered the State of the Union address and a college drinking conference this week sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Berger said the project, which will operate on a trial basis, also will give student journalists invaluable experience.

“Writers will be able to say they covered Congress and that their stories were picked up by major college newspapers,” he said. “The bureau will separate Hatchet writers from the rest of the pack, and going into the job market, that’s an important thing.”

Merency said she was impressed by the proposal of a Washington bureau but said U-WIRE has no immediate plans to create other bureaus.

“D.C. is a specific case,” she said. “Eventually we may establish a bureau in New York, but D.C. is the best fit, especially with what is going on in American politics right now.”

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