AIJI, a joint program of the Freedom Forum and USD, is a premier journalism training, scholarship and internship program for aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds. Throughout the 10-day institute, students attend classes, learn basic journalism practices, participate in educational field trips, report, write and produce multimedia projects.

Student journalists are assigned to chronicle events in southeast South Dakota during AIJI, including Czech Days at Tabor, S.D., and Tour de Kota 2012. Event coverage will include stories, social media, photography and video projects.

Jack Marsh, AIJI founding director, and president of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute and the Al Neuharth Media Center, said graduates of AIJI will earn three hours of college credit from USD. “The intent of AIJI is to recruit, train, mentor and retain diverse journalists for media careers.”

Chuck Baldwin, instructor and journalist-in-residence at the Al Neuharth Media Center, said AIJI opens doors for students who have a passion and potential to succeed as professional journalists. Students accepted to AIJI submit applications, work samples and complete a phone interview.

Guest speakers include Al Neuharth, a 1950 USD alumnus and founder of the Freedom Forum and USA TODAY; John Seigenthaler, a distinguished journalist and founder of the First Amendment Center, Nashville, Tenn.; and J.R. LaPlante, a 2009 graduate of the USD School of Law and South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations.

Students attending AIJI 2012 are: Heidi Bounphithack, Sioux Falls, S.D. (South Dakota State University); Cade Cross, Missoula, Mont. (Dartmouth College); Dylan Geuther, Vermillion, S.D. (University of South Dakota); Mike Huberman, Missoula, Mont. (University of Montana); Dacia Idom, Ruston, La. (Louisiana Tech University); Shannen Jack, Monterey Park, Calif. (East Los Angeles College); Cynthia Lee, Gallup, N.M. (University of New Mexico); Alex Maxwell, Shawnee, Okla. (Oklahoma Christian University); Demetria Mosley, Orangeburg, S.C. (South Carolina State University); Natalia Rawls, Fort Valley, Ga. (Fort Valley State University); Aaron Saunders, Durham, N.C. (North Carolina Central University); Stacy Thacker, Missoula, Mont. (University of Montana); and Mark Walker, Fort Valley, Ga. (Fort Valley State University).

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