CNS reporters cover state government — issues and personalities. Covering stories of meaning to their member papers, they come in contact with the important newsmakers of the day, from the Supreme Court justices and the governor to members of the Legislature and the people who run the state government departments, to lobbyists and public-interest organizations. Then they also talk with “real people” — the individual citizens and businesses in communities to get their reactions to what’s happening in Lansing.
In addition to weekly news stories, CNS students write in-depth articles on issues facing state government and their impact on taxpayers. Past stories on prison overcrowding, teacher certification, agriculture and budget proposals have gone statewide, and some have been picked up by the wire services. Weekly newsmakers sessions serve as exclusive press conferences for CNS reporters. In addition, the students spend time in the newsroom/classroom getting background on current issues and the workings of state government. They are briefed on how the Legislature operates and why it sometimes fails to operate. The statehouse reporting experience stands students in good stead when they enter, or re-enter, the job market.
A partial list of the papers where CNS alumni have landed includes the Tampa Tribune, the Pittsburg Press, the Grand Rapids Press, the Holland Sentinel, the Petoskey News-Review, the Topeka bureau chief of Wichita Eagle-Beacon. One graduate became the bureau chief of the Rapid City Journal’s state Capitol bureau and another went to the Associated Press Washington Bureau. Other CNS graduates work in varied jobs. Two served as assistant press secretaries for the governor. Another works in Dow Chemical’s corporate communications division. Others have worked for General Dynamics in California, for the Michigan State Employees Association, the Michigan Democratic Party and the Republican State House Press Office. Former CNS correspondents also have won numerous awards for their later work — including in one case the Pulitzer Prize.