News Outlet students report on shale exploration

Students in Youngstown State University’s program will spend part of spring break this week traveling to Texas and Arkansas to report stories about how communities there have been impacted by gas and oil well drilling.

The student journalists will talk to people who live in communities that have long experienced the economic, environmental and social effects of fracking and gas exploration.

The trip is the latest project of, a media collaboration started and headquartered at YSU’s journalism program. The News Outlet links student reporters from YSU, Kent State University and the University of Akron with professional media outlets in Northeastern Ohio, including The Vindicator, The Akron Beacon Journal, WYSU FM, Rubber City Radio and The Ravenna Record Courier. Student journalists have produced more than 150 print, radio and video stories on important community and regional issues ranging from abuses at a local mental health facility to problems with state tax collections on the gas and oil industries.

“This trip will add to the tremendous success has had in engaging students, local media and residents in our region, its challenges and its successes,” said Tim Francisco, YSU assistant professor of journalism. Francisco and Alyssa Lenhoff, journalism instructor, founded and co-direct the project.

Students from journalism, art and computer science working together with The News Outlet will produce radio, video, print and interactive graphic packages from the road. Lenhoff, Francisco, and Karl Henkel, business reporter at The Vindicator who has been covering gas and oil exploration locally, will travel with the students to help direct them as well as report for the daily newspapers. is funded by The Raymond John Wean Foundation, the Youngstown Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, WYSU FM and the YSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., housed at Youngstown State University, is a partnership between YSU's journalism program, WYSU, and the Vindicator. Other partners include Kent State University, the University of Akron, The Beacon Journal, Rubber City Radio, and Ohio Public Radio.