A joint project between The Japan Times and Hosei University in Tokyo is helping students learn reporting skills for an English-language publication.

The newspaper’s working title is the Hosei Herald. It aims to give undergraduates practical experience in journalism and a chance to strengthen their foreign-language skills.

The classes require students to discuss themes, develop story ideas and write. One of their tutors is Mutsuko Murakami, a lecturer in journalism at International Christian University and a former reporter for English-language media, including Time Inc.’s Asiaweek magazine.

The second tutor is Neil DeMaere of English Language Education Council Inc.

Several Japanese universities publish newspapers in English, but mainly for PR purposes. Students at some universities publish full English newspapers, but only as club-style after-class activities.

In Hosei University’s case, the project has a central educational purpose and is unique in having a professional journalist teach it.

“We first thought about producing an English newspaper for PR purposes. But if we think about the students, this style is better,” said Tetsuya Koshiishi, a professor in the faculty of intercultural communications at Hosei University in Chiyoda Ward. “I think such a program is rare in Japanese universities.”

The course kicked off Oct. 13. The schedule comprises 11 classes until January.

For the inaugural class, 37 students turned up. They were from a variety of academic backgrounds and years.

The tutors will oversee discussion of story ideas and will teach interviewing and writing techniques. The Japan Times will assist in editing and page layout.

Koshiishi was pleasantly surprised with the initial turnout, as it appeared to reflect genuine interest in the subject — the course does not earn the students any official credits.

“Students tend to only think about how to get credits. But taking a detour may be very important. In a way, it is good that the course is noncredit because students who came here today came with their own interest,” he said.

Specializing not in journalism but in English linguistics, Koshiishi fixed on the idea of setting up an English-language newspaper because “writing takes a lot of thinking,” he said.

As class commenced, Koshiishi told the students he expects them to overcome three hurdles — making a story interesting to readers, writing in English and writing in a journalistic style.

The students offered various reasons for taking part.

Yoshihiro Uonomi, a sophomore majoring in international politics, said he doesn’t necessarily want to become a journalist.

“I want to understand the mindset of people who write articles for newspapers. I thought I can get the glimpse of it by becoming a writer myself,” he said.

Sophomore Yuto Sugiki wants to become a journalist. He sees the class as an opportunity to learn from a lecturer with first-hand experience.

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