Merrill students produce professional-caliber reporting on myriad topics every day. Below are a selection of some of the top reporting packages created as class projects in the Merrill College.

Baltimore Urban Affairs Reporting Projects

Each semester, students in the college's Urban Affairs Reporting class (JOUR327) use Baltimore as a laboratory to cover issues of importance to cities.  The class is taught by Sandy Banisky, Merrill's Abell Professor in Baltimore Journalism, a former deputy managing editor of The Baltimore Sun. 

The class is organized like a newsroom project team.  Students develop story ideas and meet with residents, elected officials, business people and community leaders to produce a comprehensive, multi-platform report on a different topic each semester. Increasingly, the projects are done collaboratively with other classes in the college.

The stories, photos, videos and graphics that the students produce are distributed on the CNS (Capital News Service) wire and have been published by news organizations around the state.

The program is supported in part by a grant from the Abell Foundation. The Baltimore Sun provides classroom space and research materials. 



Projects by Semester (projects from 2013 on were done jointly with other CNS bureaus):

Fall/Spring 2014 - Baltimore's Forgotten Champions: The Baltimore Stallions were born from nothing, captured the hearts of a football-starved city, became the only American team to win the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup and one of the most successful expansion franchises in sports history. They left town as an afterthought.

Summer 2014 -  Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas Controversy: Dominion’s proposal to begin exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its import facility in Calvert County, Md. has put the company and the tiny town at the forefront of a national debate about natural gas, a booming commodity that some say could alter the global energy landscape.

Fall 2013 - Stuck in Transit: Baltimore's Public Transportation Woes: For decades, the jobs that many Baltimoreans rely on have been moving to the suburbs. But most of the region's transit routes haven't been changed since before the Maryland Transit Administration took over local bus service in 1971. This project looks at the state of transportation in Baltimore today and possible solutions for the future including smart phones and streetcars.

Summer 2013 - Sea Level Rise in MarylandSea levels are rising worldwide, but they’re rising two to three times faster in the Chesapeake Bay. A new semester-long investigative project coordinated by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Capital News Service (CNS) shows that sea level rise is putting major coastal areas of the state of Maryland at risk – including some of the state’s most iconic places — Fells Point in Baltimore, Harriet Tubman’s birthplace, and Fort McHenry, home of the national anthem. Students from the Baltimore Urban Affairs class were part of this in-depth investigation that saw wide coverage throughout the state and region.

Fall 2012 - Locust Point: A Changing Waterfront.

Spring 2012 - Maryland Families: Falling Behind. 

Fall 2011 - Can Art Change Baltimore?

Spring 2011 - Juvenile Justice in Baltimore City.

Fall 2010 - Searching for Healthy Food.

Summer 2010 - More Than a Game: The Orioles and Baltimore.

Spring 2010 - East Baltimore: Ten Years Later.

Fall 2009 - Reclaiming a Neighborhood: The Revitalization of Baltimore's East Side.

Produced by University of Maryland students under the Abell Initiative in Baltimore Journalism.

The Stallions: Baltimore's Forgotten Champions

The Capital News Service produces a multimedia oral history of a Canadian Football League team that only lasted two years in Baltimore. The Stallions came to town after the Colts betrayed its fans - in 1984 - leaving for Indianapolis in the middle of a snowy night. And though little remembered, the team had an impact - winning a Grey Cup championship and helping to pave the way for the return of the NFL and the Ravens 12 years later.


Sea Level Challenges Place Maryland at Risk

Sea levels are rising worldwide, but they're rising two to three  times faster in the Chesapeake Bay. A semester-long investigative  project coordinated by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism's Capital News Service (CNS) shows that sea level rise is putting major  coastal areas of the state of Maryland at risk - including some of the  state  most iconic places: Fells Point in Baltimore, Harriet Tubman’s  birthplace, and Fort McHenry, home of the national anthem.


Cancer Patient Salons

Merrill master's student Jenny Kay Paulson produced a multimedia package with text, video and photos on salon services offered by hospitals to cancer patients. The package appeared on the front page of the Washington Post's health section.

Experts Question Spill Preparedness in Chesapeake

Merrill News21 Fellow Sharon Behn found that many Chesapeake Bay scientists and experts are unaware of detailed plans and scenarios for a quick-fire response to an oil spill in the Bay. They say that a fast reaction to a spill or leak is essential to stop oil from spreading in the shallow bay and reaching the shores, further damaging an already fragile ecosystem. 

Her report is part of a summer-long project of 10 reporters and a group of faculty editors focused on the Bay under the theme Chesapeake: Bay on the Brink. It is part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, a consortium of 12 of the top journalism schools in the country.


The New Voters: Identity and U.S. Politics

Just 40 years after rioters took to the streets of Chicago displaying their anger over the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Hussein Obama stood before thousands of jubilant supporters in the city’s Grant Park and became the first non-white male to claim victory in a U.S. presidential election.

The country had changed. During the summer of 2009, 12 University of Maryland journalism fellows probed what they came to see as the fastest-growing and least understood sets of voters -- Latinos, mixed-race and youth -- to find out how. 

Their work, edited by a team of University of Maryland faculty advisors, is a part of the national News21 journalism program.

Dateline: Iceland

When Iceland succumbed to the global financial crisis, the world watched the once wealthy nation fall suddenly into massive debt, fleecing the people of an over-the-top luxurious lifestyle they had lived during a recent 10-year banking boom. 

Just last year the remote island in the North Atlantic had ranked first in standard of living in the world, according to a United Nations' report, before October 2008 hit. Unable to stave off creditors, the country's three largest banks collapsed under billions of dollars of bad debt, forcing government takeover and saddling every man, woman and child with more than $300,000 of debt.

As the Merrill College class in international reporting arrived in Reykjavik in March 2009, they discovered just what that meant to Iceland's ordinary people. In a matter of months, the value of the krona, the Icelandic currency, plummeted 50 percent, one in 10 Icelanders lost their jobs in a land where unemployment virtually had not previously existed and food prices increased by more than 12 percent.

Dateline: Vietnam

Many Americans see ‘Vietnam’ and read ‘war’ and ‘communism.’ But the dozen students from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland who traveled to Hanoi in March 2008 discovered a country drastically different than the Vietnam their parents knew.

The students traveled in and around the ancient capital of Hanoi to find a story of development and of regulation. They chronicled how the burgeoning population, more than 60 percent of which is 30 or younger, increasingly dominates Vietnamese society while undoing the deep poverty that plagued the country during and after the Vietnam War.