Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Communication students are getting Wiki

Wikipedia now has 24 new entries thanks to students taking courses in the University of Denver’s Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies.

It was an assignment as part of Assistant Professor Christof Demont-Heinrich’s News Writing and Reporting class and Associate Professor Lynn Schofield Clark’s Innovation in Media and Communication class.

“We want our students to be content creators rather than just content consumers,” Clark says. Clark realized when teaching a media history course that her students often cited Wikipedia as a reference. She wanted the students to understand that they also could be an information source.

Chelsea Clement, a junior communications major from Michigan, chose to write about a ski area near her small town of Gobles. Her entry reads, “When Timber Ridge opened in 1961 the ski area only had one lift. This lift was a tow rope that was powered by a 1949 Chevy. The cost to use this tow rope at this time was 50 cents.”

Clement says she was excited to complete the project, but nervous to have something so public go live. According to, which ranks Web sites in terms of usage, Wikipedia is the sixth most used site in the world.

“I was surprised I could do it, and it was much simpler than I expected,” says Clement, who is in Demont-Heinrich’s class.

Demont-Heinrich says this is just one more example of how the field of journalism is changing.

“We have to revamp our classes to reflect the changing media environment,” Demont-Heinrich says. “It is increasingly and radically shifting to online journalism.”

Michela Altergott, a senior digital media studies major from Greeley, Colo., is in Clark’s class. She chose to write her Wikipedia entry about the Denver depression of 1893.

“I never considered how much research and knowledge actually has to go into a Wikipedia article to make them good sources,” Altergott says. “It was actually very tough researching the subject and turning it into a coherent entry for Wikipedia. I’m also very impressed with the system of check and balance Wikipedia has in place to make sure accurate information is a part of their site.”

Her entry reads, “In 1873 Bimetallism was disestablished by congress and gold was established as the standard. This caused the prices of silver to fall; and the prices of silver fell further when the silver was struck in Leadville and in the San Juan Mountains. Almost all economic pursuits in the state were also tied in one way or another to the mining industry. Consequently, almost every Colorado resident had a vested interest in its success.”

Clark says she thinks this assignment is valuable to students, but she stressed to them that the technology is always changing. Their curiosity, passion, willingness to be helpful and skill at telling a story will be the qualities that serve them well in the job market, she says.

“They will always have to learn the latest technology in order to be a communicator,” she says.


Comments are closed.