Archive for August, 2012

The Daily Helmsman at the University of Memphis has launched a fundraising campaign, in part to fill the financial gap caused by a sudden, dramatic funding cut approved by the school.

As I recently posted, a Memphis student fees allocation committee overseen by a small group of administrators and undergraduate leaders slashed Helmsman funding by $25,000 for the upcoming academic year– a full third of the usual fees assistance the paper receives.  Some current and former Helmsman staffers, Memphis alums, and the local press view the cutback as possible retaliation for its no-holds-barred editorial content.  The Memphis president ordered an investigation.

The fundraising campaign, “Free The Daily Helmsman,” is hoping to raise enough money from outside donors to enable the paper “to become financially free from the university.”  As the campaign’s homepage states, “A free press is vital to the campus.  By becoming financially independent, the Helmsman can be sure that when it reports on important issues that the administration or the Student Government Association might wish to suppress, nobody in university leadership will be able to punish the newspaper by cutting funds”

Helmsman editor-in-chief Chelsea Boozer (the best student journalist in the U.S. at the moment, in my opinion) told The Commercial-Appeal: “I am not against the university.  I just don’t want the paper’s existence and ethics to have to rely on a committee that could become mad about our coverage.”

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University of Missouri students who enroll in high-level journalism courses that involve reporting for the Columbia Missourian are required to pay an online subscription fee to, in effect, read their own work, according to a new J-School Buzz post.

The Buzz: “On top of paying tuition (and journalism course fees) and giving the Missourian free labor, these journalism students also have to pay for access to the stories that you and your peers slave over. Does anyone else feel like they are being nickel and dimed here?”

In a response tweet, Student Press Law Center executive director Frank LoMonte quips, “Are coin-operated toilets coming next?

My Take: On spec, I’d rate this a Category 1 cringe-inducer.  It has a yikes-tone-deaf feel, but doesn’t reek of outright villainy.  Reserving full judgment though until J-School officials respond.

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In a new piece so subtle in its satire it took me a while to get the joke, The Onion mocks the practice of college newspapers endorsing presidential candidates.

The article slowly tears apart a student newspaper’s faux endorsement of President Obama in his reelection campaign.  From my perspective, the three-fold point seems to be: 1) Students don’t know enough about national politics or major social issues to really know who is right to lead the country.  2) These types of endorsement editorials in student newspapers tend to rely on nothing more than superficiality and cliches.  3) Considering their audience and lack of quality, student newspapers should stick to coverage of small-time campus matters like “editorials on late-night student shuttle service and expanding the use of DevilDollars meal-plan credits to off-campus eateries.”  Yikes, yeah, it’s a bit harsh.

A portion of the piece, cliches in bold: “Despite its endorsement, the editorial aimed to serve as a ‘wake-up call‘ for Obama, sternly warning the incumbent that ‘slogans won’t be enough this time around.’  The Recorder’s staff, whose members receive four English Department credits for their work on the newspaper, went on to offer the president even more pointed words, stating that it was imperative he ‘stand up for the middle class‘ if he wanted to triumph in November.  Flanked by articles on the volleyball team’s recent 3-1 victory over the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights and an annual drag talent show planned for Greek Week, the editorial noted that it was providing a realistic assessment of Obama’s first term by not only focusing on his successes in office, but also candidly shedding light on his ‘share of failures.'”

The article– more fascinating than funny, frankly (and I’m a huge Onion fan)– reminded me of an editorial in The Villanovan at Philadelphia’s Villanova University in early 2009.  Responding to criticism over the paper’s lack of Obama inauguration coverage, top staff basically responded: There are other papers for that.  We cover Villanova news.

What do you think?  For the record, a bunch of student newspapers published endorsement editorials during the last presidential election– a vast majority for Obama


‘College Papers Back Obama, 63 to 1′

Obama Mania in College Media: A 2008 Election Recap

Obama endorsement stirs “mini-uproar” at Abilene Christian

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The Daily Reveille is stepping up to provide quality storm coverage.  On Monday, staffers at the LSU student newspaper promised readers one thing: “As the gusts of wind and barrages of rain from Tropical Storm Isaac come to the university over the next few days, the Daily Reveille will keep students constantly updated.”

The paper has kept its promise.  The Reveille team is reporting responsibly and in certain cases with real-time gusto on many facets of Isaac’s impact on LSU’s campus and in the city of Baton Rouge.  Staffers’ Category 5 journalism awesomeness extends to stories on a range of issues and need-to-knows– from updates on the weather, the school’s temporary closure, and local and state emergency prep to a campus shelter set-up and the storm’s  meddling with LSU’s athletic program plans.

A pair of pieces also focus on students who are making the most of their sudden “hurrication” (a hurricane-related vacation), including partying while riding out the storm.  The start of one brief feature: “For many people, hurricane preparation means stocking up on water, non-perishable foods and gas.  But for some students and veteran storm survivors, alcohol is just as important as any of those items.”

The Reveille crew is also providing Twitter updates (although not a ton) and has posted a Google Crisis Map on its homepage displaying the latest info on Isaac’s intensity in various locales.  Staff photographer Morgan Searles even climbed a tree yesterday to capture a more powerful image of Isaac’s approach.

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A supposedly satirical article in an Oxford University student newspaper recently caused a mini-ruckus in Britain amid perceptions it was “misogynistic, and in a frighteningly casual way.”

The piece, a six-point guide to dating “posh girls,” has been removed from the website of The Cherwell, replaced with an editor’s note.  I do find it slightly amusing that its competitor, The Oxford Student, grabbed the article prior to its deletion and is running it in full on its own site.

The column includes advice for male students “on meeting a woman’s wealthy parents, how to discuss politics, and how to handle foreign travel and ‘getting dumped.’”  I’ll be honest: Parts of it are so British I don’t entirely understand it on spec.  But it’s clear the most controversial segment is a brief mention of the sex histories and habits of so-called posh girls.

A snippet: “Sex.  She’ll have had a lot of it, way more than you.  Do not believe any assertions to the contrary, she is massaging your fragile ego.  Posh Girls lose their virginity at 15, often to the same floppy-haired bloke. . . . She duly worked her way through the Eton rugby team before re-eloping with the same floppy-haired wanker on her gap year in Phuket.”

The guide’s writer, also a section editor at the paper: “The piece was written to be phenomenally, obviously, and rigorously ridiculous– not genuine advice.”

An Oxford University women’s campaign officer: “Treating women like objects that lack any autonomy in who they date or sleep with is outdated and boring.  If this article is trying to be funny, the author needs to realize his audience won’t be impressed with such irrelevant stereotypes.”

A portion of the editor’s letter now running in place of the piece, British spelling left unchanged: “We have decided to remove the article that previously occupied this page. However, this is not a response to the accusations of plagiarism [alluding to a separate charge circulating online that the piece ripped off a professional magazine feature] or misogyny. In our view this piece was attempting to satirise the misogynistic (and, indeed, misandrist) ‘how to…’ dating guides that pervade the mainstream media. However, this tone was perhaps not conveyed as well as it should have been, and if it caused any offence then we are very sorry. As a student newspaper, the views of our readers matter to us enormously and this is a contributing factor in the removal of this article.”

The bottom line lesson from the scandal, according to The National Post: “Never joke about rich girls.

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Welcome to the second episode of the College Media Podcast.  The CMP is a new collaborative venture between me and Bryan Murley from the Center for Innovation in College Media.

The podcast’s aim: spotlighting big college media news, standout student press work, and array of helpful and innovative sites, programs, and tech tools.

In our most recent episode, recorded Friday afternoon, we discussed the many reasons the Princeton Review “Best College Newspapers” ranking is beyond bogus, the controversy involving The Oklahoma Daily’s posting of a deceased student’s autopsy report, and, in Murley’s words, “some cool government transparency tools.”







College Media Podcast #1: A Red & Black Breakdown

Oklahoma Daily Faces Backlash After Posting Deceased Student’s Autopsy Report

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The Tampa Bay Times massive front-page headline: ISAAC INTRUDES.  The tropical storm has caused the cancellation of the Republican National Convention’s first day and the closure of many area schools.  The University of Tampa, my academic HQ, remains open.  The latest weather accounts confirm it is most likely the right call.  Apparently, Isaac is bypassing all (or most?) of Fla., leaving lots of clouds, rain, and a bit of wind in its wake.

The crack student staff at The Minaret, the student newspaper I advise at UT, has been working hard to provide preview and now real-time coverage of the convention festivities.  Included in the mix so far: a full-color magazine telling various RNC-specific stories and a separate first-person recap by our EIC about his meet-up with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

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