College of Media at Illinois

University of IllinoisCollege of Media

Outreach and Public Service

The College of Media sponsors several activities and events that help build lifelong connections among students, faculty, alumni and professionals. Following are examples of College activities that help foster public service.

UI-7 Cable TV Channel

UI-7 is the public access, educational cable television channel operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The channel is an educational vehicle for students in broadcast journalism who produce live and taped programs in the Richmond Teaching Studio in Campbell Hall. See more on UI-7.

Knight Chair in Investigative & Enterprise Reporting

Brant Houston holds the Knight Chair at the University of Illinois. He is a journalism professor in the College of Media, where he teaches investigative reporting. Recent Knight Chair projects are online here: Knight Chair.

Service Learning Projects

In keeping with the mission of the land grant university to provide public service in addition to education and research, the College of Media incorporates service learning into a number of courses and activities. Our faculty and students are actively engaged in the community and use their skills to help local business and not-for-profits with communications challenges.

Some examples include:

Agricultural Communications Partner in the Classroom

Student have worked with:

  • Larry Kanfer Gallery and his rural images collections for barn and agricultural land preservation campaigns
  • the Alliance to Feed the Future for the social media campaign to create awareness of the benefits of modern food production
  • USDA Rural Development in Illinois to improve Illinois residents’ value perceptions of the government entity and reduce barriers and maximize opportunities for rural leaders and organizations to apply for and use their programs

The Department of Advertising engages is a number of service learning projects. Learn more here.

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival

Founded by the late Roger Ebert, University of Illinois Journalism graduate and a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic, Roger Ebert’s Film Festival takes place in Urbana-Champaign each April for a week, hosted by Chaz Ebert. The festival presents 12 films representing a cross-section of important cinematic works overlooked by audiences, critics and distributors. The films are screened in the 1,500-seat Virginia Theatre, a restored movie palace built in the 1920s. The festival brings together the films’ producers, writers, actors and directors to help showcase their work. A filmmaker or scholar introduces each film, and each screening is followed by a substantive on-stage Q&A discussion among filmmakers, critics and the audience. In addition to the screenings, the festival hosts a number of academic panel discussions featuring filmmaker guests, scholars and students. Roger Ebert's Film Festival is a special event of the College of Media at the University of Illinois. A documentary on the festival can be viewed here.

Roger Ebert Center

The Roger Ebert Center will be the premiere center for reasoned deliberations on the past, present and future of the moving image, its production, distribution, exhibition, criticism, technologies, industries, economies, and cultures. Above all, the Center will be a place dedicated to championing the power of cinema and to furthering Roger's vision, high standards and mission to challenge, encourage and honor filmmakers, critics and writers who follow their hearts and work to illuminate and improve the human condition - who embrace life itself.
To support the center, visit our giving page.

The Chicago Imprint

The campus presence is felt throughout Chicago in the large number of alumni living and working there. The College of Media is involved in bringing programs, events and services to the city for alumni, students, future students and other Chicago-area residents.

Among the annual events that reach beyond the campus and include participation or sponsorship by the College are the Office of Admissions and Records' scholars recognition program, the collaborative communications conference held jointly with UIC, the press party that kicks off Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival and the Illinois State High School Press Association conference, as well as events for UI students and alumni.

See the Chicago Imprint online for additional information.

Special Programs

  • Illinois Public Media educational programs — Illinois Public Media (formerly WILL AM-FM-TV-Online) offers numerous programs of service to the local community. Among these are Agricultural Outlook Meetings, radio broadcasts that provide weather and marketing information to farmers in Central Illinois and Eastern Indiana; Caregiving Programs, a special television series that focused on caregiving related to families dealing with Alzheimer's and caring for aging spouses, parents and friends; Descriptive Video Service, which provides narrated descriptions of key visual elements in PBS television programs without interfering with the program audio or dialogue; Educational Outreach, a television discussion forum with call-in shows about local issues and followup programs that accompany national aired PBS and NPR programs; Reading Service for the Blind; Tornado Safety Seminar, Prime Time for Teachers, a monthly e-newsletter for middle school and high school teachers; several literacy and early-learning initiatives; and the Youth Media Workshop, an award-winning collaborative project that partners African-American youth with faculty to teach the students how to create radio and television documentaries.

  • Illinois State High School Press Association (ISHSPA) conference — Each fall, between 600 and 1,000 high school students from around the state participate in a one-day conference on journalism issues regarding law, ethics, production and creative endeavor. College of Media faculty and industry professionals present the sessions. ISHSPA was founded in 1921 as a link between the journalism program at the University and students and advisers who publish high school newspapers and yearbooks. Read more...

  • International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry — This international conference attracts almost 1,000 participants from more than 50 countries. Each congress engages attendees in discussions regarding how qualitative, participatory research methods can be used to address concerns of democracy, social justice and inequity at the local community level. The congress is open to the public.

  • Investigative Reporting workshop — A selected group of journalists from medium- to small-sized community newspapers are invited annually to a two-day workshop on contemporary issues in journalism for investigative reporters. Organized by Rich Martin, associate professor of journalism and former managing editor of the Roanoke (Va.) Times, the workshop features lectures, discussion, hands-on exercises and networking opportunities for about a dozen reporters. Recent speakers have included: Bill Gaines, Illinois journalism professor, holder of the Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist formerly with the Chicago Tribune; Melvin Claxton, reporter for the Nashville Tennessean and Pulitzer Prize winner; Ron Nixon, New York Times reporter and special projects team member; Cindy Murphy, reporter and investigative projects team member at the (Little Rock) Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; and Nigel Jacquiss, Pulitzer Prize-winner at the (Portland, Ore.) Willamette Week.

  • Training for foreign journalists — Journalism professors recently were invited to train journalists in Moldova, Thailand, China, Burma and Bangladesh. Among the topics covered were the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, how and why journalists use the Freedom of Information Act, how to conduct television reporting, basic journalism principles and ethics, investigative reporting, public affairs journalism and coverage of elections and politics.

  • CU-Citizen Access poverty project — In January 2010, journalism professors Rich Martin and Brant Houston announced the launch of, a new Web site that focuses on poverty and related issues in Champaign County, Ill. An integral part of the larger CU-Citizen Access project, the site offers a place for citizens, journalists, and university students to share news, raise and discuss issues, find assistance, and suggest solutions. Backed with funding from the Marajen Stevick Foundation and the University of Illinois with a matching grant from the John S. Knight and James L. Knight Foundation, the project is intended to bring together all parts of the community to disclose and deal with the issues associated with citizens living in poverty or on low wages. The CU-Citizen Access project also is intended to create as many avenues as possible for citizens to address these issues, whether through this Web site, in-person or through email, social networks like Twitter, cell phones, photos and news stories.