Archive for October, 2008

The Miscellany News has “entered into the next generation of online journalism,” according to its editor in chief in a recent piece for Inside Higher Ed.


The goal of the online transformation, the EIC wrote, was to shed the stigma of the paper’s online version as an “ugly stepsister” to the print edition:


On our new site, reporters can contribute live blogs, attach videos and other multimedia to their articles, and display high-resolution photography in a way that our print publication never could. Best of all, The Miscellany’s site is flexible, no longer burdened with the stagnant design so common among news sites in the 1990s. We have become one of only a handful of college newspapers in the country . . . to adopt a Web 2.0 approach and craft our site using up-to-date CSS and XML standards.



The site (screenshot above) is especially exciting because it is proof that a Web-friendly, Web-first j-philosophy can exist within smaller student newspapers, a group of publications that have the least amount of resources and assistance enabling them to make the leap to an online news world.

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A short article run in The Chronicle at Duke University earlier this month about a student’s attempted suicide has spurred vicious criticism on campus and even a poster campaign calling for the editor in chief’s resignation.


Via College Rag, critics’ two main points of contention: The article effectively identifies the student involved (by naming his dorm and gender, leaving an easy-to-follow gossip trail); and the incident is only slightly newsworthy at best (since it concerns a private citizen carrying out an essentially private act).


A letter to the editor from a former Chronicle editor asked: 


What, exactly, was the point of running that story? The student was apparently not charged with a crime, nor does the attempt appear to have had newsworthy ripple effects beyond the predictable gossiping about it. Lest you think that suicide attempts are inherently newsworthy, please ask yourself when you last saw a major newspaper run an article about the suicide attempt of a non-public figure.


Last week, angry students peppered Duke’s campus with posters adorned with similar complaints and unflattering photos or faux-photos (it’s not clear which) of the newspaper’s editor in chief. 


The story and reader reaction highlight the journalistic difficulty of dealing with suicide and attempted suicide.  Do I think an incident that brings police and EMS to a campus dorm late at night deserves coverage?  Yes, I do.  If I was a student living in the dorm, I would be interested to know why sirens were blaring outside my window and I think it is important to hear from authorities instead of just hall gossips.  Should the story’s reporting have been more general, avoiding references to the student’s gender and the specific nature of the incident (including labeling it an attempted suicide, a term whose connotation runs far deeper than its literal law enforcement meaning)?  In my opinion, again, yes.


What do you think?

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University of Nebraska journalism students will be alllllll over Election 2008.  On Election Day, they will carry out live reports via the student multimedia news service NewsNet Nebraska and provide real-time updates on a special section of NewsNet’s Web site.


According to a Nebraska j-prof coordinating the coverage:

In preparation for Election Day . . . students have researched and investigated the issues. Stories in pre-production that will air on election night will include profiles of senatorial and presidential candidates; state legislative and congressional races; the GOP in small-town Nebraska; the college vote; the affirmative action amendment on the Nebraska ballot; the history of exit polls; the blogging and You Tube phenonema during this election cycle.

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Students at Missouri University’s School of Journalism are currently enrolled in a pair of cool new media courses, courtesy of new MU J-School partner  The yet-to-be-launched site, founded by an MU alum, “offers an unprecedented global and macro point of view,” according to The Maneater student newspaper.  “The site collects video news from various media outlets worldwide and then analyzes and compares how multiple sources report the same story.”



Sounds impressive enough.  Interesting to see what it will actually look like.  In the meantime, its main contribution to MU is its staffers’ development of two courses that debuted this fall: advanced global converged news and global online marketing and advertising.  (Say that three times fast.)


In the latter class, according to the instructor, also Newsy’s vice president of marketing and community:


Students are learning about tools to analyze and track traffic to see what types of videos are popular with what type of audience.  The class is learning how to create a buzz online, how viral marketing works by using social networking sites like Facebook, social media sites like Digg and communication platforms like Twitter.

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As election day nears, a college journalism initiative worth knowing: A team of students from the University of Utah and China’s Cheung Kong School of Journalism at Shantou University have been covering all-things presidential and political during the U.S. election season for an online endeavor they have dubbed Campaign Coverage ’08.



As the site describes the effort’s aim:


From gavel to gavel at both political conventions through Election Day, the Campaign Coverage ’08 team will file stories with over two-dozen media outlets in China and the United States. Hard news, human interest, opinion and election-year color, the team of international journalists from two starkly different political systems engaged in this historical undertaking will bring a unique and fresh perspective to political media coverage.

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A journalism student in Afghanistan has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for blasphemy, ironic because it is actually being hailed as a small victory by human rights advocates who were worried the sentence would be death.


According to The Associated Press:


Prosecutors alleged that [24-year old Parwez] Kambakhsh disrupted classes by asking questions about women’s rights under Islam.  They also said he illegally distributed an article he printed off the Internet that asks why Islam does not modernize to give women equal rights..  He also allegedly scribbled his own comments on the paper.


The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the International Federation of Journalists have each made public statements of distaste about various facets of the case. The scariest charge: Kambakhsh’s sentence may be a consequence of his journalist brother’s criticisms of the country’s political leaders and atrocious human rights record.

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The debate between the power of online and print in collegemediatopia continues.  (See previous post!)  Another back-and-forth made popular as of late: Should the inverted pyramid be rejected from a j-school near you?  Or more generally, is the old style of j-writing and reporting not worth the j-101 class in which it is being taught?


According to an editorial in The New Hampshire:


Some students [at the University of New Hampshire] claim they want more variety to their journalism education. They call for specialized training in magazine writing and sports writing, in features and in new media techniques. Meanwhile, they complain about the beginner journalism classes.  They claim, in the face of a struggling newspaper industry, that learning traditional techniques and styles of writing is passé and unnecessary.


The TNH response: “They are wrong and we think our classmates need to look at the reality of their situation, and understand what is valuable about the things they are learning. . . . What they [employers] are going to care about [prior to new media or feature-writing talent] is that you can identify news and report it, which is what you are learning at UNH.”


I personally agree.  Use new media.  Let alternative storytelling styles run wild.  But first, learn the basics.  What do you think?

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