USF students get Midtown newsroom

Published September 30, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - A University of South Florida St. Petersburg journalism class is moving into Midtown, a move designed to help its students better tell the stories of the city.

The newsroom in the James B. Sanderlin Center, 2335 22nd Ave. S, will be dedicated today in honor of the late Peggy Mitchell Peterman, a former St. Petersburg Times reporter known for her coverage of the community.

"In order to cover the community, you need to be in the community," said Monique Fields, a USF journalism lecturer. "People need to see you."

In previous years, the newsroom was run from the offices of professors who assisted with the program.

"We don't want it to just be a newsroom where the students go and write the stories," said Fields, also a former Times journalist. "We want the community to feel like it's a part of their community."

The room is equipped like a basic office, holding six computers, a fax machine, a scanner and a copier.

"It makes us seem a little more than outsiders," said Bryan White, 44, a junior in journalism and mass communications. "Being able to refer to that location gives us some credibility with some people."

Members of the Peterman family are expected to attend the grand opening and dedication. The featured speaker is Pulitzer Prize winner Leon Dash.

With the new office, Fields said, she hopes more people will know where the class is and feel free to come in and let the staff know of goings-on.

"It's not just community journalism," she said. "It's citizen journalism. We won't just teach a class out there."