YSU Journalism

YSU Journalism Students Apply Skills to Showcase Research

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Two graduating journalism students from Youngstown State University presented projects Wednesday, showcasing semesters’ worth of skills they’ve learned while studying at the school.

Kelcey Norris and Abigail Cloutier, both 21, shared their findings on investigating missing persons cases in Youngstown and the relationship the community has with the Youngstown Police Department, respectively.

The students were guided by Shelley Blundell, assistant professor of journalism and communications.

It’s the interpersonal part of journalism that they gravitate toward. Both Norris and Cloutier majored in journalism and have a minor in telecommunications.

“For me, it’s getting to tell a story, focus on detail,” Norris said ahead of her presentation. Cloutier agreed, adding that she likes meeting a person, learning a bit about them and telling a story from their point of view.

Their favorite parts of journalism were reflected in their presentations. Each conducted about a dozen interviews putting their projects together over the course of their final semester, putting public records requests and data base searching to the test.

Already comfortable with practices and ethics associated with journalism, as they were both editors of The Jambar, Norris and Cloutier applied everything for their projects, they said, honing their interviewing skills.

Norris worked with investigators and loved ones of missing persons, learning that many are from a resident facility in the city. She also learned that once a person is realized to be missing, friends and family don’t have to wait 24 hours to report it.

Cloutier took the George Floyd case and localized it, looking at community relationships with the police department. She found that YPD has “a lot of trust” from citizens, with many officers having grown up within city limits, she said.

For school, Cloutier said she realized a couple of things after moving to Youngstown from just south of Pittsburgh: the law enforcement support and niche stores and restaurants, including hot dog shops.

“Everybody is so passionate about what they do, and that’s the cool thing” about talking to people in the Mahoning Valley, Cloutier said.

Both Norris, of Canton, and Cloutier also enjoy that each day with journalism, they not only tell stories of the community or do investigative work, but they also get to wear a different hat each day.

“It’s like job shadowing every day,” Cloutier said, with Norris agreeing.

Finding out they were both going to study the same thing, Cloutier said they lived together until recently and have become good friends. She’s also enjoyed getting to know other students and reporters from the area.

Cloutier, who has worked as a production assistant at WKBN, will continue her career there. Norris will operate cameras at the Hollywood Gaming racino.

“I did a lot of writing” while at YSU, Norris said, but she’s looking forward to learning more about videography when she starts her new job.

As the project came to a close, Blundell said the process of watching and helping Norris and Cloutier “humbled” her.

“Their drive, their raw talent, and the incredible experiences they have worked to cultivate in the media field while still working full time in their students is a fantastic accomplishment,” she said. “For me, getting to play a small role in the outstanding media professionals they have become is both an honor and a privilege – but I just provided the tools.”

Norris and Cloutier will graduate Sunday.

Pictured at top: Kelcey Norris, left, and Abigail Cloutier will graduate Sunday from Youngstown State University with a Journalism degree.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.