History of Capital News Service

Michigan Capitol dome

Experience is the key word in journalism, and MSU’s Capital News Service is one of the best places to get it. What began as an experimental program in the MSU School of Journalism has evolved into one of the school’s most innovative and challenging programs, providing both invaluable experience for students and a unique service to Michigan’s newspapers and online news outlets.

CNS was launched in the fall of 1981 under the supervision of Dick Milliman, former president of the Milliman Newspaper Group. CNS bears the mark of his interest in state government, public policy and politics. The pilot program consisted of 10 student correspondents and 10 subscribing newspapers. After Milliman’s pioneering work, the coordinating job was assumed by Bill Coté, a member of the Booth Newspapers State Capitol Bureau for 15 years. Coté joined the full-time faculty of the School of Journalism in 1986.

Following Coté’s retirement, Professor Eric Freedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Detroit News, became CNS director. Freedman currently heads the program and teaches it alongside David Poulson, the senior associate director of MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. Today, the program has expanded to include nearly 40 member publications.