The Digital Newsroom senior capstone is commemorating 10 years of The News Feed, an online news platform with content produced solely by Virginia Tech School of Communication students.

According to Syrenthia Robinson, senior instructor in the School of Communication and the primary instructor for the course, the class “simulates what students would experience in the real world.”

Digital Newsroom, a senior-level course for students majoring in multimedia journalism, provides students with a semester-long opportunity to hone their reporting, producing, writing, and directing skills in preparation for journalism careers.  

“It really is one of the most impactful and important classes that the School of Communication has to offer,” said Evan Hughes ‘21, assistant director of broadcast services with Virginia Tech Sports Properties. “I hope that every student gets the chance to take Digital Newsroom because they will be better for it.”

Working with The News Feed provides students in-studio opportunities to build their professional portfolio and produce work to show future employers. Additionally, the course acquaints students with the inner workings of an authentic newsroom environment before tackling their first job after graduation.

“We’ve had several students remark after they’ve left the program that when they walked into their first job, it was like walking back into class,” said Paul Spaulding, digital media center engineer. “It gives them that feeling of familiarity and the ability to hit the ground running when they get to their first assignment.”

Over the last 10 years, The News Feed has gone through several changes to enhance students’ preparedness in terms of competitiveness in the quickly-changing job market. In response to the ever-advancing curriculum, hardware, software, and technology in today’s field of journalism, Digital Newsroom stays on the cutting edge.

“We must have our finger on the pulse of how the industry is changing,” Robinson said. “We want to prepare our students to be competitive in a market where the technology is evolving.”

The overall goal of The News Feed, which was launched during the 2013-14 academic year, is to continue building the reputation of Virginia Tech’s journalism program and prepare students to compete with graduates of other top-tier journalism schools. 

Digital Newsroom affords students the opportunity to develop and strengthen skills in writing, visual storytelling, public speaking, and reporting. In addition to hard skills, students learn problem-solving and methods to remain calm under pressure. 

The News Feed covers four major areas of news: sports, life and style, arts and culture, and science and technology. This content in the form of webcasts, podcasts, vodcasts, and articles are available on FacebookX [formerly known as Twitter], and YouTube.

“We explore what’s happening as far as events and issues regarding science and technology,” Robinson said. “Science and technology is a big thing here for our Virginia Tech audience.”

While fundamentally a Virginia Tech product, Robinson stated that the reach of The News Feed extends well beyond the university’s borders.

“Our audience for the News Feed is Virginia Tech, the New River Valley area, and, at times, the Roanoke Valley area,” Robinson said. “I send our newscast to the local cable news channel here in Blacksburg and they broadcast it on the cable channel.”  

“Digital newsroom is the biggest preparation for everything beyond college,” said Bailey Angle ‘17, assistant director of communication strategy for the Hokie Club and in-venue host for Virginia Tech Athletics.

“Thrilled” is the term Robinson used to sum up her assessment of the course's growth over the past 10 years, and she added that she is hopeful and excited for what the next 10 years will bring.

“With every year since I’ve been here, I’ve had these lofty ideas of things that we could do, and, honestly, we’ve reached many of those goals,” Robinson said. “We’re good where we are, but of course, there is the expectation that we are going to continue to grow and grow and grow.”

Written by Lillian Barnes and Vicent Parente, student writers for the School of Communication