This was the initial email that was sent to interested persons about the formation of the Intercollegiate Online News Network by Jim Stovall from the University of Tennessee on Oct. 14, 2008. It was followed by another email three weeks later.
Colleagues and friends,
I am sending you this email because either I have talked with you or I have reason to believe that you would be interested in the idea of forming a network of campus news web sites. In the past few months, I have had discussions with many individuals about such a network, and many people have expressed an avid interest in forming such a group.
Now, I think, is the time for us to coalesce those discussions and ideas into a working idea.
First the name: The organization would be called the Intercollegiate Online News Network (ICONN). Members of the organization would be campus news web sites, such as the one we have at the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Journalist <tnjn.com>.
A chief purpose of ICONN is to promote the education and practice of web journalism in the nation’s institutions of higher education. A second purpose is to give campus news web sites a way to connect with one another in an Associated Press-like fashion. In other words, ICONN members could use originally-produced content from other members on their web sites (with appropriate credit, of course). A third purpose would be to encourage the establishment of campus news web sites, particularly those that advance the educational mission of the academic program.
The University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee (Mike Wirth, dean) and School of Journalism and Electronic Media (Peter Gross, director) have pledged to support the formation of ICONN in whatever ways are possible. In addition, representatives from places such as the University of Georgia, the University of Colorado, George Mason University, Marist College and others have expressed great interest in this idea.
With this email, I hope to gather initial questions that will naturally arise about this organization and ideas about how ICONN might be most useful to students and academic programs. Our next steps, I think, will be to establish a web site for ICONN and to solicit volunteers to be on an initial board of directors for the organization.
One question I know will arise immediately: how much does it cost to join? Right now, there is no cost. A campus news web site would simply agree to have its name listed as a member and to share its original content with other members. That could change, of course, once a board of directors forms and begins to establish policies for the organization.
Not only has the University of Tennessee pledged its support in name, but it is also making available some resources that I can explain more fully later.
Finally, I have included quite a few professional (non-academics) on this email list because it is important to have you involved from the very beginning. I hope that you will give the formation of this organization serious consideration and try to contribute to it in whatever way you can. Passing the word to academic friends would be very helpful.
Thank you all for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from each of you.