Community Engagement


This community online news and information project is devoted to investigative and enterprise coverage of social, justice and economic issues in east central Illinois.

Through its website and social networks, CU-CitizenAccess offers the opportunity for members of the community—including citizens, journalists, and university students—to share news and information, raise and discuss important issues, and suggest solutions. The project also serves as a platform for new and innovative journalism techniques and practices.

Professor Brant Houston, the Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois, oversees the project. Houston served for more than a decade as the executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), a 4,000-member organization, and as a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers for 17 years. He is a co-founder of the Global Investigative Journalism Network and the Investigative News Network and advises nonprofits newsrooms in the U.S. and internationally.

Learn more about CU-CitizenAccess.

Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies

The Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies, officially launched in 2022, will offer annual programming open to the public, including the Ebert Symposium, a film screening series, lectures and discussions, and other events. 

Learn more about the Ebert Center.

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, or Ebertfest, was co-founded in 1999 by Roger Ebert, a journalism alum and a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic, and Chaz Ebert. Ebertfest is held every April at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, Illinois, and features 12 film screenings followed by panel discussions with filmmaker guests. Producers, writers, actors, directors, and film lovers from around the world attend the festival and its associated events. The annual event is co-sponsored by the College of Media and Chaz Ebert.

Learn more about Ebertfest.

Watch a retrospective of the festival.

Richard and Leslie Frank Center for Leadership and Innovation in Media

The Richard and Leslie Frank Center for Leadership and Innovation in Media, established in 2020, will develop students who are leaders in their professions by offering access to a diverse group of experts and practitioners through residencies and a speaker series, and by supporting outside learning opportunities such as professional immersion experiences, conference participation, and internships. The Frank Center will also enhance opportunities for the College of Media to engage with the public on pressing issues.

Learn more about the Frank Center.

Illinois Journalism Education Association 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. IJEA 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.

Learn more about IJEA.

Illinois Public Media

Illinois Public Media is a not-for-profit public media service of the College of Media at the University of Illinois, educating, entertaining, inspiring and empowering by airing the best of public television and radio programs, producing local content for broadcast and the Web, and working with community partners to address needs and concerns.

Learn more about Illinois Public Media.

Initiative for Media Education Inquiry and Action

The Initiative for Media Education Inquiry and Action (IMEDIA) is a project of faculty and students in the College of Media and the College of Education. IMEDIA studies existing media pedagogies and collaborates with community partners in developing media education research and practices. A member of the recently launched Illinois Media Literacy Coalition, IMEDIA aims to support teachers in integrating media analysis and production into their classes and building a robust critical media literacy curriculum in Illinois schools.

Learn more about IMEDIA.

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.

Learn more about International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry.

Registered Student Organizations

Several of the registered student organizations (RSOs) associated with the College of Media offer engagement opportunities to their membership. Students learn through hands-on experiences by working with not-for-profit organizations in the community. Others organize public lectures and presentations for the education of members and the community.

Learn more about media-related RSOs.