Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
War News Radio (WNR), Swarthmore’s well-known radio broadcast, is undergoing a complete transformation in order to emerge as a more innovative news source.
Now operating under the title “Lodge 6,” the organization will no longer focus solely on foreign conflict nor will it be only a radio program. WNR plans to produce in-depth coverage of a wide variety of topics relating to social justice. Lodge 6 will be multimedia platform, with audio, video and print coverage.
“The decision to alter the landscape of War News Radio is not a betrayal of ideals. We are dedicated to covering underreported issues and exposing the human side of conflict,” said WNR staff member Alan Zhao.
War News Radio has won multiple awards for their reporting and had enjoyed a large audience. But as the public’s attention shifts to other social issues and radio reporting becomes overshadowed by other news mediums, WNR has decided to change both its content and platform in order to reconnect with its audience and provide greater opportunities for students to practice professional communication skills.
“We are losing a connection both with our general audience and our on-campus following and as result are trying to refocus our journalistic dedication to shed light on other social action issues,” said Zhao.
Established in 2005, WNR began as a forum for students to investigate and report on important issues related to conflict, providing in-depth historical perspectives and personal accounts to supplement mainstream media sources. The group became especially interested in the popular media’s coverage of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently, Libya. Concerned that reports from these countries focused on statistics and strategies rather than the real-world repercussions of war, WNR directed its attention towards providing balanced and substantive reporting.
As Lodge 6 develops, it will be covering many topics under the umbrella of social responsibility. Its first reports will be evaluating poverty and inequality at a local, national and global level. Lodge 6 will be using this project as an opportunity to explore different forms of multimedia coverage.The project will include a short documentary series on a tent city in Lakewood, New Jersey. The series will focus on the stories of the homeless and the issues they face on a daily basis.
The new project will be published through a variety of news outlets in order to reach the greatest audience possible. This will include posts not only the project’s new website, www.lodge6.org, but also to social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
“The changes we are making reflect the changing media landscape. By altering our methods we hope to reinvigorate the organization and bring back the spirit that got it started and got it on the map,” said WNR staff member Jared Nolan.
In addition to remodeling WNR content and format, Lodge 6 will expand its scope as a medium for teaching responsible journalism. According to WNR advisor Jim MacMillan, Lodge 6 has three main goals: first to allow students to practice reporting in multiple formats; second to provide training for students in communication forums; and third to begin developing or partnering with other student media projects.
MacMillan deems Lodge 6 a “journalism incubator” aimed at giving students the tools necessary to participate in public communication forums. In order to meet these goals, Lodge 6 will be offering campus-wide workshops to teach professional reporting skills. It will also lend its resources to students looking to start new news outlets.
“We are seeing independent journalists stealing the show everywhere and preparing students to do that is more promising than preparing one single platform that they are going to leave behind,” said MacMillan.
Lodge 6 will be actively recruiting new reporters. Those interested in learning more about the organization may contact Jim MacMillan at email@example.com.