Archive for October, 2010

A trio of photos providing just a glimpse of my convention and Kentucky experience.

Stacks of student newspapers and magazines published on campuses across North America overwhelm tables in the "alley" on the second floor of Galt House Hotel where convention foot traffic was highest.

Murray State News features editor Charlotte Kyle shows off her handmade newspaper dress at Saturday's Midnight Cereal Critique. According to her fellow staffers, at one juncture during the critique, she was turned around so editors could point out a particular story they were discussing. Notice the masthead hairband.

On Halloween's eve, Louisville's Fourth Street Live featured an array of costumed locals, tourists, and convention-goers. The Avatars posing with me are Louisville residents.

 

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This morning, at midnight, I munched on Frosted Flakes and pored over student journalism.  I was a participant in a witching hour tête-à-tête with college newspaper staffers that for me was the highlight of convention programming.

The midnight cereal critique involved a bevy of advisers offering instant analyses of student newspapers to their staffers, completed in schizophrenic round-robin style. (The advisers stayed put and the students sat and popped some issues in front of them when a table became free.)  Some students wore costumes, including a young woman from Murray State University who wore a dress made entirely of newspapers- creative ink-stained couture whose only drawback seemed to be that the student could not actually negotiate a way to sit down.

While discussing the pubs with students, I found myself returning to three main focus areas:

List-lessness: I flipped through lots of papers filled with calendars of events, police blotters, and world news round-ups laid out with all the energy of a heroin addict, after a fix.  The dates or geographic locations served as the headers.  There were few, if any, graphics or photos breaking up the eye-gouge-inducing blocks of text.

Lists deserve some art and some creative (even snarky) headlines.  Give people a reason to read.  And with events calendars especially, exhibit some news judgment. Students can peruse every campus happening via the school website or SGA mass e-mails.  The newspaper should not be a repository of everything, but a spotlight for some things.  Certain event previews should be highlighted more than others.  And some potentially do not deserve a mention at all.

– News vs. Features: A number of smaller campus newspapers that were plopped onto my table sported a mix of sections that included both news and features.  The problem: The features looked like news to me, and I never received a satisfactory answer as to what the features section specifically represented or why it deserved a distinct separation from news.

The general gist for many papers seemed to be: The features section includes more pieces focused mainly on students or longer-form journalism.  They also tended to have more alluring photography and snazzier layouts.  But they were still news, at least in the classic sense of what we separate from A&E, commentary, and sports.

My bet is that if the student staffers could not really define the section to me, neither can their student readers on campus.  Two ways to solve that problem: Come up with a rock-solid coverage scope and stick to it.  Or mesh it in seamlessly with news, making that whole section as snazzy as features is now.

– Packaging Problems: The front pages of every paper I critiqued displayed the most design and newshound chutzpah.  The problem was in the follow-up.  Typically, the lead story getting all the graphic, layout, and header attention on page one was whimpering to a close on page two with nothing but a smidgeon of jump text.

It is a sad ending for an article that deserves more- especially because, as staffers candidly shared with me, the front page piece tended to be the only big story in the entire issue.  The solution: story packaging!

Think info graphics- a breakout Q&A with a central source quoted in the piece, a timeline of events or by the numbers breakdown.  An entire sider might be warranted.  A prominent teaser for online extras such as a photo slideshow might be the way to go.

The bottom line: Diversity of content in a newspaper is fantastic, but an issue’s lone big story should get the full RPT (reporting and presentation treatment).

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Nighttime in downtown Louisville.  It has segued from crisp to cold- at least for a guy who’s spent the past few years in Singapore and Florida.

The nickname for Louisville, at least according to slogans I see everywhere, is “Possibility City.”  It is a nice backdrop for two other memorable sessions I attended today- one also on collegiate news design and one on feature writing.

A few of the basic lessons I scribbled down during the design session, led by Rick Brooks, a soft-spoken, impassioned “yearbook pro” from Jostens:

A quality news design should grab attention and communicate something in three seconds or less.  First impressions are everything.

Go with your gut on design.  If you feel like something’s off, missing or just bad, dive back in or scratch and redo.

According to a trusted survey, Myriad is the most popular font among designers for news headlines and Garamond is most popular for body copy.

Seek design inspiration from unlikely sources, including movie and campaign posters.  He specifically cited game-changers such as the Obama “Hope” poster and posters for the films “Juno”  and “Seven” (apparently it jumpstarted the mass use of fun “grunge font”).

Consider converting a color image to black and white when you want to better freeze a moment in time.

Three web tools he plugged, the latter two new to me: Wordle (for word clouds), Yearbook Yourself (fun photo editing program), and Shape Collage (another creative photo editing program)

A few tips on news features shared in a separate early afternoon session led by Lori Brooks, the associate director of student media at Oklahoma University:

Search for the story behind the story.  For example, she cited not covering the football game each fall Saturday but the many people and routines surrounding it- the mascot, the stadium announcer, the third-string QB, the post-game stadium clean-up, etc.

Do a day-in-the-life report.  She suggested figures to follow such as the university president, famous faculty, campus security, a disabled student or a parking attendant.

Always think alternatives, either as siders or full reports: how-tos, Q&As, lists, by the numbers breakdowns, timelines, etc.

An easy way to contrast straight news and features: A news story is about a building that burned down. A feature is about Joe Schmo who lost the only photo of his mother in the fire.  In her words, a feature is “more personal, in-depth, and not as breaking.”

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The 89th annual ACP/CMA National College Media Convention is well under way in crisp, sunny Louisville.  A highlight of the morning sessions for me: a news design revival of sorts led by journalistic guru Michael Koretzky.

I’d heard stories from many others about his entertaining and unconventional convention presentations.   I can now say after seeing the man put on a show firsthand: I am a believer, a true Koretzky-ite.  The standing-room-only crowd in the mega-room in which he spoke confirmed I am far from alone.

He wore sunglasses, in a room with the lights shut off.  He threw gold coins at students who answered his questions correctly or wittily.  His PowerPoint slides were alive- bursting with colorful examples, musical interludes, occasional profanity, and even a dollop of full-body nudity.  His mantras on basic news design, photography, and headline writing principles were sound and wonderfully caked with sarcasm.

A few standout lessons he imparted to the current generation of student journalists, whom he chided for being “averse to taking any risk”:

Write headlines for students, not boring bureaucrats.

Don’t feature so many stories and photos focused on old people.  Student papers, first and foremost, are for students!

Clip art is for amateurs, losers, terrorists, and pedophiles.  Don’t use it.

“If a story has a bullsh*t paragraph in it, you cut it out.”  Why not crop a photo with the same BS filler?

If you can put your finger over a face in a photo and completely cover it, make the photo larger.

There is a law of diminishing returns in the news design game.  At some point, spending more time designing a page does not mean it will result in a better page.

The biggest photo on a page does not have to be the most important.

“When you have big news, make it look big.  Blow it up!”  It is better to be criticized later for playing up a story a bit too much than not enough.

“Embrace white space.  White space is your friend.  Too many students are afraid of it.”

If all photos and headlines on a page are the same size, start redesigning immediately.

“You have the next 50 years to be boring.  Be bold now.”

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A National Public Radio report recently reopened one of the most spirited debates within collegemediatopia.  The question at its core: “What’s the point of journalism school, anyway?”

The report presents the classic arguments: the skyrocketing cost of higher education vis-à-vis the decline in mainstream news media careers versus the still-powerful impact of quality journalism and the idealism of j-students and j-educators about their ability to change the world.  Descriptors such as dying, awful and unsettling appear close to others like innovation, renaissance, and re-creation.

The gist: J-school enrollment is up and it continues to have its supporters, but concerns also exist about its relevance in a do-it-yourself, free-information age.

So, circa 2010, what is the point of journalism school, anyway?  Here is my take:

1) Journalism schools are also now news providers.  Students gain practical experience and produce work with the potential to reach websurfers worldwide . . . while still in school. Of course, you do not need a j-school backing to make that impact, as I confirmed in my most recent PBS MediaShift piece.  But the new media resources, faculty mentoring, general connections, and peer support available within a solid j-school can help a ton.  Not everyone has an innate Zuckerberg-esque entrepreneurial or media instinct.  Most students need some direction and feed off collaboration.

2) The aura and reality of the journalist-as-superhero remains strong.  Last year, a Baltimore Sun piece cited a University of Maryland j-student saying, “All of the kids in journalism school still have idealized visions of journalism. We’ve all seen All the President’s Men and that’s the journalism we fell in love with.”

Fortunately, that journalism still exists.  Amid the incessant gobbledygook of information floating online nowadays, actual truth-seekers and hold-their-feet-to-the-fire-starters are still in great demand.  We still need individuals trained in info. gathering, cultural interpreting, and ethical reporting.  Journalists still possess the power to be the information overload’s smoking gun.  And these journalists need training.

 

3) All the chatter about bankruptcies, layoffs, and early retirement packages often hides one absolute truth: Many j-school graduates do still mesh the words journalism and career together.  And even more cognitively dissonant, those dead tree newspaper thingies still provide the most news jobs of any medium in j-world.

There is even hope that new media’s worldwide (web) domination will soon lead to an explosion of related journalism jobs. Columbia University’s dean of academic affairs said last year that he views the current journalistic slash-and-burn “as being like a forest fire. It damages a lot of trees, but once the smoke clears, you see the buds come out.” (Does he mean blogs?)

 

4) Journalism schools help students beyond the traditional journalism job-seeking.  It’s an audio-video-Flashified-bloggerific-podcastastic time in not only journalism but marketing, advertising, PR, corp. comm., etc.  I have a friend who developed and runs a daily-updated website full of multimedia extras and a New York Times-style seriousness.  Her field, and the site’s focus: real estate.  Her degree: journalism.

5) Yet, for all the practical assistance they can offer, journalism schools are not fish farms.  They do not simply breed future news media professionals.  For some students, journalism is the new philosophy.  It’s a sexier version of general studies or liberal arts.  It is a major awash in lessons about creativity, communication, marketing, ethics, the law, contemporary history, politics, culture, management, the Internet, and much more.  A related degree is a starting point for a career in a bevy of fields outside news and new media.  And for some, it is simply enjoyed on its own merits and for its ability to make students more informed, involved citizens of the world.

6) Journalism schools increasingly provide a service to those in transition– older folks, career-switchers, and print-and-ink journalists looking to get a new media leg-up in a tough economy.

7) There need to be leaders in every field- individuals and institutions who set standards, start conversations, and, as the NPR report notes, pose the tough questions.  The professors, classes, students, and publications in journalism schools today are those leaders.  Undergraduate and graduate enrollment in j-schools are growing.  More professional journalists are coming aboard to teach and collaborate.  Individual student start-ups and school-sponsored outlets are emerging in greater numbers than ever before.

As Geneva Overholser, the University of Southern California director of journalism, told NPR about the state of journalism: “It’s a renaissance, a re-creation. . . . [M]y favorite word for it- and I’ll carry this one all the way- is promising.  And these students know that they’re going to re-create it.”

What is missing from this list???

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Comedy is increasingly causing controversy within collegemediatopia. Since last spring, at least a half dozen high-profile student press firestorms have been hand-drawn- centered on campus papers’ editorial cartoons or original comics.

The latest: a debate dubbed “cartoon-gate” at the University of Connecticut focused on a pair of comics published last month in The Daily Campus. They were run one atop the other, featuring messages some considered sexist and downright offensive.

As one report described the comics, “The first [screenshot below] said: ‘Forget sugar and spice and everything nice. Try crabs, scabs and everything viral. That’s what girls are really made of.’  The second [a portion of it seen in lower screenshot] implied that a girl, who was not ready for sex, could be lured into the bedroom with a shiny diamond ring.”

The strips stirred outrage among some on campus and earned a public condemnation from the campus chapter of the Violence Against Women Prevention Project.

As one student wrote in a letter to the editor: “I am so disgusted by comics you ran . . . that frankly I was fully set to bypass even writing a letter to the editor but heading straight for the Board of Trustees to appeal for a refund of my student fees, which fund this newspaper.”  Another letter writer stated, “[Both comics are] INCREDIBLY offensive to females. The editor of this section should not have allowed either of them to be published in the paper. I ask that there be some sort of public apology made due to the degrading nature of the cartoons directed towards females.”

In a published statement, the Daily Campus editor in chief did not apologize, but admitted the strips “failed as satire” and confirmed that the editorial policy concerning comics will be strengthened.  The comic artists also issued responses.

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A new issue of College Media Review is now in print and online.  Its featured cover story: my report on the founding of The AUI-S Voice, the first independent college news media outlet in Iraq.

Other pieces explore the student press power struggle at private schools, navigating the “alphabet soup” of education records such as FERPA and HIPAA to gain access to relevant information, and the ins-and-outs of covering a national political convention in preparation for the biggies in 2012.  In respect to the latter, as CMR shares, “Yes, it’s two years away. But now’s the time to start eyeing the upcoming presidential election and laying the groundwork for your students to have their feet on the ground covering it.”

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A number of current and former staffers at New York University’s Washington Square News are concerned about the paper’s own director of operations, an NYU Local piece confirms.

The growing resentment appears to center not on the person, but the position- a non-student supervisory role that apparently is required by the university in exchange for campus newsroom space in pricey Manhattan.  The director of operations oversees the WSN’s business dealings and wages numerous other behind-the-scenes battles with “the bureaucracy at NYU.”

Yet, as Local revealed, some student staffers view his job as “ill-defined,” “tricky,” and “constitutionally vague.” As the post notes, the director “has no clear supervisor. He constantly wrestles with NYU’s bureaucracy to get things done, but is still not exactly an NYU employee.”  Other issues center on alleged communication breakdowns and what staffers say are frequent failures on the director’s part “to complete his duties.”

His pay is the chief problem for some.  The roughly $75,000 salary is not unusual for a person in a director of operations position nationwide and is even seemingly a bit spartan by Manhattan standards.  But it has been tough to stomach for some members of WSN’s e-board because it eats into nearly a quarter of the paper’s total annual revenue.  And there is a sense that his job could be carried out by someone working half his hours and earning much less pay.

WSN’s editor in chief: “We love having conversations of what we would do with that money.  We would have daily runs all in color, we would invest immediately in our iPad/BlackBerry/Android application. Totally new computers. I could pay my staff.”

The director contends that the ill will in part stems from the classic business-editorial tug-of-war; a lack of understanding among staff about his role; a lack of knowledge about the many unseen tasks he carries out; and a lack of recognition for the importance of such a supervisor at a large, complex student media operation.  As he told Local, “I don’t know of an urban daily with more than 100 students on its roster that doesn’t have a full-time person on the staff.”

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Student journalists at Stony Brook University are facing a stonewalling from campus sources that is undermining their ability to practice and learn the craft, a professor in the SBU School of Journalism wrote earlier this month.

According to j-prof Barbara Selvin, a heavy-handed university media relations team has increasingly “created an atmosphere in which nearly every administrator refers all questions to [the media relations head].”

As she posted on her blog (screenshot below), “Those who spoke to student journalists directly in the past have gradually stopped doing so. Officials deny student reporters access to any event that hasn’t received her explicit approval for coverage. Last month, one of my colleagues had his broadcast students turned away from a hot-dog eating contest because she hadn’t signed off on their presence.”

The post has sparked intense online discussion, including more than 30 comments from SBU students and alumni- and an impassioned response from Lauren Sheprow, the head of SBU media relations.  It also spurred an editorial in last week’s Stony Brook Press, headlined “Stonewall Sheprow,” confirming Selvin’s criticisms.  As a portion of that piece notes:

Lauren Sheprow, the Director of Media Relations, has spearheaded this tug-of-war [between SBU student media and media relations] with an incessant expansion of control, a frighteningly stalwart commitment to bureaucratic paperwork and a stance on public relations that leaves little growing room for educational journalism. Sheprow has become infamous for her ability to circumvent and stonewall student journalists, as well as exercise Media Relations’ grip over an increasing amount of the campus, from RAs to dining hall managers.

In an e-mail to the Press, Sheprow stated, “I appreciate that students have assignments to complete . . . at the same time, it is up to individuals on campus to decide if they want to participate in interviews.”

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The University of Kentucky and The Kernel student newspaper have reached a temporary agreement regarding the Kernel‘s distribution privileges in the parking lots of the school’s football stadium.

Collegemediatopia supporters, the blogosphere and the Twitter-verse were abuzz last week with news that UK officials had barred the paper from being passed out in the parking lots at Commonwealth Stadium prior to football games this season.  As the newspaper itself reported, “Officials [at UK] said a contract with IMG College, a sports marketing firm, prohibits the Kernel and other publications from handing out papers on Commonwealth Stadium grounds . . . [T]he Kernel advertising staff has handed out nearly 2,000 newspapers before every home football game for 10 years without interference from UK.”

The school’s argument, via the UK PR & marketing executive director: “The First Amendment grants the right to publish, but there are limits to where publications can be distributed. . . . They are a commercial newspaper and if they wanted to be able to distribute at an athletics facility, that is a business arrangement they would have to carve out with IMG, which holds the exclusive media rights.”

Everyone else’s argument, first via Student Press Law Center Executive Director Frank LoMonte: “The law says a public university has to allow a speaker a reasonable opportunity to reach their targeted audience.  You can certainly see where being kept out of the stadium and the parking lot doesn’t provide reasonable access to the people you want to reach.”  And Kernel editor in chief Matt Murray: “It’s a clear violation of our First Amendment rights.  No amount of money should be able to buy away anyone’s constitutional freedoms.”

The new agreement allows Kernel distribution at three “designated areas” on stadium grounds “as long as staff [don’t] wander through the lots.”  In an editorial, the paper’s e-board declared, “The Kernel plans to abide by the guidelines of the compromise for now, but a bigger concern is still at hand.  After reviewing the guidelines of the contract and speaking with UK, the question remains whether or not UK’s contract with IMG is constitutional.”

My take: The title of one of the Kernel Web videos seen in the screenshot above says it all.  This is BIG BLUE MADNESS.  It is unconstitutional and disrespectful to the very individuals who enable the university to exist and strike $80 million deals.

If we cannot even have a student-first philosophy involving some campus papers kids hand out in a stadium parking lot, haven’t we strayed a little far from the rationale behind higher ed in the first place?

As a Kernel editorial notes, “Stifling constitutional amendments to help the athletics program capitalize off of its $80 million contract is the kind of action that keeps UK from making strides toward being a benchmark university.”

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Update: Here’s a link to the full episode of “Nightline” that aired the segment featuring us.  It leads off the broadcast.

Tune into ABC’s “Nightline” tonight (11:35 p.m. EST).  You just might catch a glimpse of me and some of the student staffers of The Minaret, the newspaper I am proud to advise at the University of Tampa.

Last week, a “Nightline” crew led by correspondent Vicki Mabrey and producer Kinga Janik stopped by UT.  As part of a planned segment on the college hook up culture, Mabrey spoke with me for a bit about the two core focus areas of my book- student sex and dating and the students who are writing and reporting about it.

Mabrey also chatted with Hannah Webster and Dominique Barchus, a pair of standout UT students who serve as Minaret love and sex columnists.  Buttressing the interviews, the crew captured the columnists, editors, and I in action, editing text and layout in the newsroom and overseeing the (frankly hilarious) shoots for the photos running with their columns in the current issue.

 

Correspondent Vicki Mabrey interviews Hannah Webster (left) and Dominique Barchus about their sex column work earlier this week on the front steps of UT's historic Plant Hall. Producer Kinga Janik works one of the two cameras capturing the trio's chat.

 

According to Janik, unless the Chilean miner story continues to play as big or other breaking news trumps regular programming, the story will air tonight (Monday).  If not, it will hopefully be on at some point this week.  Either way, I’ll include the link to the full episode within this post ASAP.

 

Click on the image to read Webster's current column.

 

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Late last month, the Student Government Association at Mansfield University voted to immediately and indefinitely suspend funding for The Flashlight student newspaper.

According to a Williamsport Sun-Gazette report, the SGA at the Mansfield, Pa., school went so far as to tell the campus weekly to “take a break” and has set up a “restructuring committee” to decide the paper’s fate.

The Flashlight did publish one additional issue after the ruling, but is now on a forced hiatus.  Without SGA funding, the paper’s advertising revenue reserves would enable it to print for roughly a month before going bankrupt.

The SGA has not given Flashlight editors or faculty adviser a clear explanation about the need for either the sudden funding freeze or the full-blown “restructuring committee,” which I’m dubbing the SCC, or student censorship club.  (Seriously, it sounds like something out of Fahrenheit 451).

The student government has cited only “numerous complaints” as the reason for its heinous actions.  When pressed by Flashlight staff, it offered the following “statement of clarification”: “[I]t was formally brought to the attention of the Senate that the Flashlight had not fulfilled the obligations laid out in their budget’s condition and additionally was violating Article III, Section 2, Item B of the student government bylaws which state that in order to be recognized as a student organization, the organization must ‘Exhibit sound organizational structure and provide documentation of such to the Senate.'”

Follow that?  No additional information has been provided.

My statement of clarification: This is Censorship, with a big, fat capital C. The SGA must drop its freeze, disband its censorship committee, and allow the Flashlight to publish immediately and without fear of future reprisals.

Student newspapers provide an extraordinary service to their campuses. Sometimes, they screw up.  And there is beauty in that, considering they are vehicles for learning as well as outlets providing news.  If concerned about content, write a letter to the editor. Grab the EIC for an off-the-record chat.  Arrange a formal sitdown with the e-board and faculty adviser.  But don’t abuse the power that comes with holding the pursestrings.

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On her Twitter bio, Nora Simon puts it simply: “Every day I’m editing.” The personal observation is also the title of one of her blogs.

Simon is editor in chief of The Oregon Daily Emeraldthe EIC of the ODE. She has already overseen a major print redesign of the paper and is promoting a “website-first mantra” for news copy flow.

The University of Oregon senior is also a grammar caretaker- and in her spare time a cake baker- who scoffs at new media naysayers and champions journalism students as major j-players.  “I care deeply about student journalism, and I want to be part of the discussion and debate about student journalism issues,” she recently wrote.  “I care about how college newspapers teach journalists and how they serve their communities.”

The editor inside her at times even follows her home.  As she recalled about a trip to Manhattan, Kan., in August, “The first thing I noticed is that they updated all the street signs. My sister retorted, ‘You would notice dumb stuff like that.'”

For her work in helping shape “the new face of the Daily Emerald,” Simon rightfully earns a spot in the CMM Student Journalist Spotlight.  In further explaining my selection of Simon, I bow to the wisdom of her literary inspiration, Oscar Wilde: “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

How did you become interested in journalism?

Even when I was growing up, I was exposed to journalism constantly. My parents met on their student newspaper at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and we always talked about journalism because my dad is a professor. After vowing I would never follow in their footsteps, I joined my high school newspaper, the Manhattan High School Mentor, where I wrote everything from a feature on our senior speaker to an article about the principal’s decision to keep a campus safety issue under cover. After getting involved with editing my sophomore year of college, I instantly loved how it required me to work with both words and people. I consider editing the best of both worlds. Not only do I get to teach people things, but I learn something new every day.

Why does the Emerald rock?

The Emerald rocks because we’re student-run, independent and hardcore. We only have 40 full-time staff members and five professional staff members, which includes all 10 of our section editors. That means we only have 30 people producing consistent content for a daily, five-day-a-week newspaper that’s read all over campus. We’re all super dedicated to our jobs, and we want to make the paper and our online publication the best it can be. But the people at the Emerald are definitely the best part. We’ve all got our quirks, but we’re all hardcore about journalism.

What’s the toughest part of running a major campus newspaper?

The thing that gets me is time management. There’s always a meeting to go to, always someone or something to distract me. The newsroom is one giant distraction. We get so much done, but because there is so much to do, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Along these same lines, it’s also easy to get caught up in day-to-day problems or issues, rather than focusing on long-term or organization-wide goals. I have a lot I want to accomplish this year, and I tried to make it the focus at the beginning of the year. But at some point it becomes more and more difficult to keep that momentum going once routine has set in.

Then there’s the balance between being a student and a journalist. I know the entire staff has this problem, but it’s strange to think that we’re working full time and still going to school. It makes for a crazy, yet entirely satisfying, schedule. Keeping on top of my goals, troubleshooting throughout the year and continually analyzing why we do things a certain way are certainly going to consume my year.

Memorable Emerald moment.

One great moment at the Emerald was our first Game Day issue before the start of the school year. We revealed our new redesign and had our greatest cover story yet (see screenshot below), complete with a deluxe Cliff Harris quote.  It was amazing to see everyone working together to make it happen. I knew this was going to be a great year because of how amazing that issue was and how well the staff worked together. We hadn’t finalized the design yet, but we were so in love with how it looked that we decided to just do the whole issue with the new style. We stayed up so late making sure everything was perfect with the new design, and it turned out to be one of our most well read, as well as talked about, issues yet.

What advice do you have for j-students similarly aspiring to be EICs?

First, don’t ever give up, even if you feel like you’ve failed. If you’re passionate enough about what you want to do, you’ll find a way to do it. I applied three separate times to the Daily Emerald before getting hired as a copy editor, but during that time I gained other valuable experiences that helped me get the job. Second, keep your connections open. Get to know your professors and other student journalists. That way, you’ll have a great network of people to rely on if you’re looking for a job or just trying to answer a journalism-related question.

Third, part of moving your way up is learning that you’re never going to be perfect but always thinking critically about how you can improve your skills and the skills of those around you. If you’re working at a student publication, start thinking about what things the staff does really well and what things can be improved upon. Finally, realize that you’re a student journalist, and make the most of it. Take advantage of the benefits of being a college journalist, but realize the limitations of a campus publication. Have fun with your job, and make it fun for everyone else, while still being serious when you need to be.

You wake up in 10 years. Where are you and what are you doing?

In 10 years, I will be some sort of professional nerd. In the running, in order of preference, are copy editor, librarian or museum curator. Living in a city about the size of Portland, Ore., or Omaha, Neb., would be ideal. I want a job that allows me to make a difference for a lot of people, but that also gives me down time to read and travel.

 

Every day, she's editing...

 

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Are j-schools and j-programs “jumping on the flashy new media bandwagon” at the expense of the basic skills of the craft?

According to a new About.com piece by Tony Rogers, a veteran journalist and head of the j-program at Bucks County Community College near my old stomping grounds in Pa., there is a growing fervor among j-educators “that the fundamentals of news gathering are being pushed aside in favor of an ever-expanding array of tech-related classes.”

The write-up is light on specific examples, touching mainly on the recent Colorado j-school and Montana public affairs reporting class sagas- easy targets and still outliers in my opinion.  But Rogers does pepper the piece with a few significant voices echoing his tech-run-amok thesis that are worth a read.

Virginia Breen, a SUNY Purchase j-prof who has worked with journalism students nationwide in various capacities: “You have to wonder how much you can cram in a curriculum without diluting the essentials.”  During her recent interactions with j-students, she said she saw them display “incredible technical skills, but I did notice that a few required a surprising amount of guidance on journalism fundamentals.”

Linn Washinton, Temple University j-prof and co-director of the school’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab: “[T]oo much emphasis has been placed on the bells and whistles of technology and not on the fundamental purpose of journalism- to provide information to the public and to serve as a watchdog on government.”

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Another comic scandal has befallen collegemediatopia.  The staff of The Eastern Echo at Eastern Michigan University has apologized for the recent publication of a KKK-themed editorial cartoon that caused an uproar on campus.

The image depicts a small group of white hood-wearing individuals gathered around a noose tied indelicately to a tree branch. In the foreground, a couple eye each other through their hoods.  The words displayed beneath them: “Honey, this is the tree where we met.”

As the Echo explained in a post-publication statement about the cartoon’s aim: “The cartoon points out the hypocrisy of hate-filled people. Its intent was to ask how can someone show affection for one person while at the same time hating someone else enough to commit such a heinous act as hanging.”

Reactions have run the gamut.  One EMU student even filmed and uploaded a video to YouTube showing him throwing away a stack of Echo issues in disgust.  In his words, “My first thought was ‘Why would the Echo allow this to be published?’ It’s not socially relevant to anything going on in the world or on campus, so it’s uncalled for.”

One positive outcome of the cartoon’s publication: a school-wide forum hosted by EMU’s provost meant to address the controversy and its larger implications. According to the Echo, “Some members of the audience seemed to be in support of the comic, feeling it wasn’t offensive, others were extremely upset about the comic and some disagreed with the comic but supported the idea of free speech.”

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