EDINBORO — “Who has campus events?” asked the bespectacled editor as he peered expectantly over the shoulders of his page designers. “Who has basketball?”

“I do,” replied a voice from behind one of the computer work stations.

It’s not The Meadville Tribune newsroom. But with a group of diverse minds all clamoring toward the same goal — getting the news put together within a roughly one-hour timeframe — it’s pretty close.

And bringing that true-to-life newsroom experience into the classroom is a big part of what Boro Online is all about, according to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania journalism course instructor Alan Wilson.

Wilson said the recently-established Web-based publication (at aux.edinboro.edu/boroonline) also serves as another source of news for the Edinboro area. Visitors to the free site can access student-produced articles on news around the region as well as links to the Tribune and other local and national news and information sources.

Local schools, business communities, government officials and other groups are welcome to submit information for articles and suggestions on how Boro Online may better serve the community, Wilson said.

“It’s really cool” to learn how a news Web site is created and maintained for its readers, said Edinboro student Tyler Smith as he recently worked on placing a story from fellow student and campus journalist Stella Vealey.

Prior to taking courses in the journalism field, Smith said he “never really gave a second thought as to how that information gets out there” from media sources to the reading public.

A journalism major and editor of the university’s weekly Spectator newspaper, Vealey said working hands-on under strict deadlines is teaching her and her peers more about the news world than any traditional classroom setting ever could.

“You can only learn so much from books,” she said recently. “You have to do it yourself to really learn.”

Vealey said she got “the full experience” of working under the gun when she covered NBC foreign news correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s recent visit to the university.

After gathering the news, Vealey — accustomed to having a week or more to develop and finalize a story — said she promptly made her way back to her work station and started typing.

In just over an hour, the report on Mitchell’s visit was written, edited and available for Boro Online readers.

Wilson said along with providing instant news updates, Boro Online is also looking toward developing further in future semesters by incorporating video and audio news clips.

The ongoing project offers journalism students “a sense of doing something in the immediate,” he said. And by involving newsmakers beyond the campus borders, Boro Online “becomes a community publication.”

Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at rsmith@meadvilletribune.com

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