Archive for December, 2008

Your New Year’s Resolution: Shepherd your student newspaper into the wonderful world of Web 2.0 with a site that screams innovation, newsiness, and new new new new journalism.

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Who can help: The uber-tech-savvy team behind the revolutionary CoPress collaborative. As announced today on its Web site, CoPress is ready to host your student newspaper on its private server and work with you to build the type of site you desire. Check out its self-described “swanky hosting page” for details. A demo is also coming soon.

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CoPress Hosting Page—————

My take: The College Publisher CMS is so 2008. Shovelware is like coal in the stocking. CoPress seems to be the future. It is determined to make student news sites that are student-friendly and UNIQUE to each and every outlet and campus. The results of its efforts of course are still pending but the CP team oozes passion, relevant experience, and new media sensibilities. (I still think CoPress founder Daniel Bachhuber’s first words were technical ecosystem.)

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A judge has scored round two of the slugfest between St. Louis University and SLU communications professor and student newspaper adviser Avis Meyer squarely for Meyer, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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The fight started with an administrative decision last spring to rewrite the charter of The University News student newspaper. The administrators said it was to create a better newspaper. Some student journalists worried at the time it was an attempt to control content. So Meyer, a longtime U News official and unofficial adviser, set up a nonprofit corporation using the names The University News and SLU just in case student editors wanted or needed to move off-campus to continue publishing. Students eventually decided to accept the school-mandated charter changes and Meyer disbanded the corporation. But the school filed a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit in October 2007 ensuring its registered names would not be used.

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Yesterday, a judge dismissed a majority of the school’s suit. The details are a bit complicated, but one look at Meyer’s close-mouthed grin in the photo run with the Post-Dispatch story leaves no doubt about the victor at this stage of the fight.

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Forget Soundsliding, podcasting, vlogging, geotagging, and a-Twitterin’. New media tools are important, but without kick-ass content Journalism 2.0 is still deader than Cuba Gooding Jr.’s acting career (seriously, what happened to him?). Everything journalism was, is and will be rests on our ability to tell a story. And every story starts with idea.

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Below is a brief list of what I’ve found to be timely, pertinent, and interesting recent reports from student and professional media that I hope you might be able to localize, adapt, or otherwise draw inspiration from for story ideas of your own:

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COLLEGE WATERGATES: The recent death of Watergate’s famed anonymous source Deep Throat led me to wonder about the biggest and most scurrilous administrative, athletic, and student scandals at universities worldwide over the years, especially those exposed only through student journalists’ shoe-leather reporting.  Maybe the symbolism of his death and the term break provides a decent timeframe for your media outlet to look back at your own college’s Watergates and what, if any, impact they continue to have on your school today.  By the way, apropos of nothing, here’s a snippet about Deep Throat’s death in a Washington Post appreciation piece: “Felt had breakfast Thursday at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif., he took a nap and disappeared into the evermore. As we in the newspaper biz say, he took the buyout. Good for him, and thank you.”

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LAST LECTURES: On Christmas Day it was exactly five months since the passing of famed “Last Lecture” professor Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University.  He was an inspirational figure for many in large part due to the YouTube-sensation of a lecture he gave about pursuing dreams after learning his cancer was terminal.  Again, possibly with the added time of reflection provided by break and in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, get professors’ (or even students’) take on what their own last lecture topics or even simply their last words to the world might be.

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BRANDING IN BAD ECONOMIC TIMES: A recent Salt Lake Tribune piece touts the near-ubiquitous branding efforts carried out by universities across the U.S. in the past decade via advertisements and larger marketing strategies.  The economy has turned.  Schools’ finances are tightening.  What does it mean for your school’s brand and the behind-the-scenes work done to project it?

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CAMPUS SPORTS SECURITY INCREASE: A governmental push to increase security at college athletic events and a related $3.5 million Homeland Security grant is funding workshops on sports event security training for officials at roughly 1,000 colleges and universities in the states.  Is your school involved?  What’s the current security plans in place at your school for various athletic events?  What have been the biggest security lapses or concerns at athletic events over the years?

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“Campus gossip Web site tests freedom of speech”: One student’s take on the continuing Juicy Campus saga (Poughkeepsie Journal)

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“Students see the possibilities”: A journalism professor writes about what keeps students joining J&MC programs (Miami Herald)

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“College students learn records may be open, courtesy not a given”: A rundown of j-students’ experiences gathering public documents in River Falls, Wisc., as part of an information gathering course (River Falls Journal)

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“Back home again in Indiana”: Sports journalism program starting at Indiana University  (Reporter-Times)

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The Saturday and Monday editions of The Columbia Missourian are being dropped to help reduce the newspaper’s heavy operating budget deficit, but the newspaper will continue in print. (A brief write-up and related podcast can be found here.)

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The start of an open letter to readers from the paper’s exec ed:

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The Columbia Missourian will reduce its print publications from seven days a week to five by the end of February. The Weekend Missourian, distributed free on Saturday to about 40,000 homes, will be canceled, as will the Monday editions. What won’t change: The Missourian will continue to be a general distribution print publication for the Columbia area, with home delivery as well as in newspaper racks. Journalists will publish news seven days a week on columbiamissourian.com. Missourian personnel will serve advertisers; Missourian circulation staff will deliver your newspaper. Vox, the Missourian’s city magazine, will publish in print each Thursday, as it has for a decade. Its content can also be found at voxmagazine.com.

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One option on the table had been a shift to an online-only news operation. Is this a small victory for print? Or simply an acknowledgment it’s not quite dead yet?

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A group of current and recent journalism students at Georgetown University are suing the FBI, CIA, and six other government agencies for records related to the 2002 kidnapping and death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.  According to The Washington Post, the students have been attempting to solve the Pakistan-set murder mystery for more than a year, a quest that started as a class project in a Georgetown j-course.

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As the Post reports:

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The students’ assignment was to find out who killed Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and why. Although the class ended last spring and many of the students graduated, they’re still trying to write that last paper. . . . Yesterday [Dec. 18], the group, known as the Pearl Project and now attached to the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asking for the release of records by the CIA, FBI, Defense Department and five other federal agencies. . . . In the early days of the class, [the instructor] told the students of her longtime friendship with Pearl, a musician who hung out with her in Adams Morgan bars after work in the 1990s. . . . The class immediately felt different — more emotional, weightier, students said. “We weren’t sitting in front of a textbook reading about Danny Pearl’s case,” said Erin Delmore, a 2008 graduate. “We were in it, head-first in it.”

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To me, at the most general level, the group’s efforts are a wonderful example of two things:

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1) The genuine impact student journalism can make when channeled toward a worthwhile, focused goal.

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2) The importance of a knowledgeable, impassioned adviser to direct j-students’ talents and energies.

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