UL journalism students aiming to give a Voice to Limerick

Michael Brophy, sports editor, Fintan Walsh, editor, and Jessica Leen, features and lifestyle editor of the Limerick Voice, which is distributed with this week's Leader
JOURNALISM students at the University of Limerick produced their seventh annual newspaper for the city and county this week.

JOURNALISM students at the University of Limerick produced their seventh annual newspaper for the city and county this week.

The Limerick Voice is distributed free with all editions of the Limerick Leader this weekend, and includes news, features, farming, business and sports stories drawn from an extensive number of communities the length and breadth of the city and county.

All material was planned, written and laid out by a combined team of 37 students of UL’s BA in Journalism & New Media and Graduate Diploma in Journalism programmes, overseen by BA student Fintan Walsh as editor.

Mr Walsh described the Limerick Voice 2014 edition as “a piece of history”.

“After seven weeks of preparation with the help of 37 reporters covering every town and village in county, I am confident that this 48-page newspaper captures the Limerick of today. At protests, in Regeneration areas, in countryside villages and in the pubs – a Limerick Voice reporter was there.”

“The aim of this project was to create a piece of history, so that in 20 years’ time, people can look back on this edition and find out what Limerick was all about. This is crucial in regional journalism and I am truly proud of every page,” he added.

The print edition of the Limerick Voice is complemented by a website, Limerickvoice.com, and the students have also used social media platforms to dramatically expand the newspaper’s potential readership and online following in recent weeks.

The newspaper’s Facebook page has grown by over 500 to a following in excess of 1,250 in the past few weeks alone, boosted by the students’ strategic sharing and promotion of Limerick Voice reporters’ online coverage of significant news and sports events in the city and county.

This social media strategy was coordinated by students Marie Enright and Alex Sheehan.

“We set out to make the social media presence more diverse and reach a larger audience this year,” Marie said.

“Facebook and Twitter are great platforms for connecting with people, but we felt a more visual approach was needed. Instagram and Vine were put to great use by our reporters when covering events, and the online interaction really stemmed from that.”

“Social media is also a great catalyst for local stories and some of our best tip-offs were through social media. It’s a really enjoyable aspect of the project and has provided us with a solid following before going to print,” she added.

The Voice was produced under the direction of UL journalism lecturer, Keith Watterson.

“The Limerick Voice project is one of the most rigorous and demanding of the modules in journalism as taught at UL,” Mr Watterson said.

“Students go through the entire media production process, including story generation, news writing, page layout, editing and newsroom organisation and planning,” Mr Watterson added.

“The Limerick Voice 2014 edition is one of the most impressive student-led newspaper productions I’ve ever seen, and it’s my pleasure to be associated with it.

“The product is a testament to the students’ adherence to the best traditions of shoe-leather reporting. The content is marked by originality, wit and a scrupulously ethical approach, demonstrating that UL-trained journalists are more than equal to the challenges of the 21st century journalistic marketplace,” he added.