As the most recent natural disaster in Moore, Oklah., shows, coverage of weather events is an increasingly vital skill for journalists worldwide– including, of course, in the state of Oklahoma.

According to Judy Gibbs Robinson, the veteran editorial adviser to The Oklahoma Daily and OUDaily.com at the University of Oklahoma, “[Monday’s] F4 tornado just to the north of our campus occurred during one-day training for the small summer staff [of The Oklahoma Daily, which is a weekly during summer break].  Needless to say, we were not prepared.  As the afternoon and evening unrolled, I discovered how little this current group of young students knows about covering weather (in Oklahoma!).  So I created a handout for them titled ‘How to Cover Weather Stories.'”

Among the tools and tips Robinson shares on the handout, some of which she learned from the 2013 SPJ Region 8 conference:

1. Get news releases from the National Weather Service.

Go to the National Weather Service website at http://www.srh.noaa.gov.  [Next, click on the relevant spot on the map for local weather information.]  Click on “news” in the top navigation bar.  And scroll to “media registration” to register to receive news releases.


2. Follow InteractiveNWS.

iNWS is the new, and experimental, mobile and desktop application from the National Weather Service.  Use it to receive customized text message and email alerts for weather info you care about.  Go to http://inws.wrh.noaa.gov


3. Social Media.

Follow the (fill in your city here) NWS office on Facebook and Twitter for real-time weather reports.  Links are on the website:  http://www.srh.noaa.gov.

4. NWS Chat.

Go to https://nwschat.weather.gov to register to participate in an instant, real-time chat between the media and the emergency response community.

5. NWS Chat Live.

Here is an enhanced version of NWS chat– not sure how they are different though: https://nwschat.weather.gov/live/

**Bonus Tip: Find Out About the Kids.

Candace Baltz, general manager of student publications at Washington State University, has one more essential weather coverage tip.  In her words, “As someone who found herself covering tornadoes live on-air last spring for several hours at a time– and with no personal tornado experience to pull from– I found the info our listeners were most interested in was not just where the storm is and where it’s heading, but their kids– what to do about the kids.  So I’d highly suggest including the school district spokesperson contact info, as well as the police and city, so you can report that the kids are on lockdown or dismissing early, etc.  That may not be as interesting for a college publication, but it’s still good info to get.”

As the academic year at last draws to a close and the Class of 2013 leaves campus for good, advice is everywhere– in commencement speeches, parent chats, and student newspaper columns.

Along with adults who supposedly know better, current upperclassmen and graduating seniors are offering endless words of wisdom to their student peers on making the most of the college experience and the post-grad transition.

Some of the advice published in student papers lately opines on big picture issues. Other tips touch on the small stuff. In respect to the latter, as The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently suggested, “Always carry cash. . . . Never let anyone drive your car. . . . [And] only date excellence.”


In this second part of a two-part feature, here is a sampling of the excellent advice– big and small– students have shared publicly in recent weeks.

Figure Out What’s Right, Not What’s Right Now.  As Meg O’Connor, a student at the University of Minnesota, writes in The Minnesota Daily, “Graduation provides a time for people to reflect on what exactly it is they want to do. Don’t jump into something because it is what your parents want for you or because you feel that it is the ‘right thing to do.’ Do what feels right for you. We have the rest of our lives to be working professionals, so taking a couple years off or even just a summer away to give you a break sounds like a mighty fine idea to me. . . . It’s more important to figure out what is right rather than what is right now.”


Know A Little About A Lot.  As Amanda Butcher, a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, confirms in The Torch, “Your college major might not matter so much to employers. In fact, four of five employers said that graduates should have a general arts and sciences knowledge, rather than something ultra-specific. . . . If you know a little about a lot of things, you can always be taught specifics. . . . Hardly anyone ends up in the job they started out in. As people advance in their career, they need to have more knowledge than they started out with. Having a broad spectrum of knowledge would make employers think they can let you move higher on the totem pole of the company.”

Voice Your Opinions, on All Available Platforms.  As Zack Scott, a student at Temple University, contends in The Temple News, “Writing opinions in the more traditional sense will always have its benefits and will never truly go away. . . . But there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be avoiding letting their opinions be heard when the threshold for publication has never been so low. Whether through social media, blogs or even comment threads, you can publish your thoughts and people will actually read and be influenced by them. By any standard, that is incredible. And to not take advantage of it would be nothing short of irresponsible.”


Recognize What You’ve Already Accomplished.  As Dennis Biles, a graduating senior at San Jose State University, writes in The Spartan Daily, “For those of you who are about to graduate and feel nervous about the next step, stop quivering in your boots of foreboding and realize you’re more prepared than you may think. Just getting through college, especially in today’s America, is a significant achievement in itself. . . . Going to college now is harder than at any time in the past. It’s more expensive and more challenging than anything your predecessors dealt with before … Take it from me, if you’re able to survive college you’re well prepared to survive the real world.”


Admit Your Own Stupidity.  As A.J. Artis, a graduating senior at Emory University, notes in his final humor column for The Emory Wheel, “You can’t make fun of people for being stupid unless you admit that you are also stupid. No one has anything all figured out. And to mock someone for not having things figured out, without acknowledging your own lack of direction, is not funny. The best stories are the ones that secretly say, ‘I’m pathetic.’ If you want to be funny, hide your feelings or make fun of them. And of course, write on the toilet.”

As the academic year at last draws to a close and the Class of 2013 leaves campus for good, advice is everywhere– in commencement speeches, parent chats, and student newspaper columns.

Along with adults who supposedly know better, current upperclassmen and graduating seniors are offering endless words of wisdom to their student peers on making the most of the college experience and the post-grad transition.

Some of the advice published in student papers lately opines on big picture issues. Other tips touch on the small stuff. In respect to the latter, as The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently suggested, “Always carry cash. . . . Never let anyone drive your car. . . . [And] only date excellence.”


In this first part of a two-part feature, here is a sampling of the excellent advice– big and small– students have shared publicly in recent weeks.

Take Responsibility, Along with Naps.  As Caroline Kelly, a graduating senior at James Madison University, writes in The Breeze, “Everything is your own responsibility now. You have total freedom over your schedule. I’ve had some friends come out of high school and gleefully frolic through this new world of naps whenever you want and no parents, and then flounder when they found themselves waist-deep in work due tomorrow. You can do whatever you want, but you also have to do things you don’t want. Absolutely no one is going to make you write your essays, go to class or eat your veggies but you. Teachers aren’t interested in hearing how you felt really bad, that your stomach hurt and that’s why your big essay is late. Everything you do is on you.”

Talk to Professors After Class.  As Yishai Schwartz, a graduating senior at Yale University, advises in The Yale Daily News, “Linger in the hallways.  The best of what I learned from my professors didn’t come in the lecture hall or the seminar room, or even in office hours. It came in the half-hour after class when most students had dispersed, but a few of us lingered in the hallway. . . . There’s no hand-raising or phony pontification in the hallway. Professors let their hair down and engage, and you learn what they really believe, enjoying the freedom to press and push. And when they make little sense, you can interrupt and question and argue, free of the fear that you’ll look stupid in front of your classmates.”


Enjoy Summer.  As Anthony Bellafiore, a junior at Penn State University, writes in The Daily Collegian, “[F]or those of you who adhere to the non-senior category, please don’t pretend to be so happy when we all return in September.  Because yes, college is great and all but summer is about as close to perfect as we are ever going to get. . . . So get excited. Get out there and enjoy it.  Make sure you take full advantage. Unlike the parties, the bars, the football and the work– if that’s your sort of thing– it won’t be around forever.”

Say Thank You.  As Lexi Thoman, a graduating senior at the University of Mississippi, confirms in The Daily Mississippian, “As students, we are in control of our own futures.  But without the mentorship and guidance of our professors and advisers, most of us would not be as successful as we are today. Sometimes the smallest comment or slightest nudge in the right direction is all it takes to make a huge difference. . . . [N]ever forget to say, ‘Thank you.’  A quick email or stop in their office is all it takes to leave a lasting impression and set you apart from the thousands of other graduates in the Class of 2013. Humility may be a fading art in our generation, but no one should be above giving thanks to those who deserve it.”


Get Off Campus.  As Alexis Paine, a graduating senior at the University of Alabama, notes in The Crimson White, “[G]o out and get involved. You’ll regret sitting at home when all of your friends are reminiscing about all the fun they had meeting new people and experiencing new things. Do what you can to bolster your résumé now. Get some real world experience and find out what your passion is.”

To Be Continued…

An unemployed Spaniard twentysomething with a journalism degree and no job has gone viral for singing— yes, singing– about his credentials on the subway.

As The Huffington Post shares, “While a friend filmed, Enzo Vizcaino strummed on a ukulele and serenaded straphangers on the Barcelona Metro. . . . Fortunately, after the video was posted on YouTube and shared widely on social media, the job offers flooded in.”

Check out the video of his performance.  His song is in Spanish, so I’ve included a translation of most of the lyrics below.

Among the lyrics:

Degree in journalism
and a master’s diploma
that is folded right here,
in case you’d like to see it.

Complementary training:
An online course I found on Groupalia
about community management.
I’m an expert on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest,
Linkedin and MySpace.

Professional experience,
at a local radio station,
with a fellowship contract,
that was unpaid, of course. . . .

I’m the King of Word,
Excel, and Powerpoint.
I control Photoshop.

Don’t reach for your wallet,
I’m not here to ask for money.
Though maybe you have a friend or relative. . . .
Need a journalist, screenwriter,
writer or editor,
music composer.

Or maybe you’re looking for a more basic service.
I also know how to kneel
and for a special price
I will let you whip me.

For more information
always at your disposition
my profile is at Infojobs.


Student Journalist’s Resume Goes Viral, Changes the World

Student Journalist Portfolios: How to Build, Sell Your Brand

Longtime Daily Iowan archivist and librarian Caroline Dieterle is leaving the University of Iowa student newspaper at semester’s end.  Due to digitization, her position is being eliminated.

As Dieterle told the DI for a brief retrospective piece, “I’m not [retiring]. I am being made redundant here with what is being made with technology.  I would be happy enough to file the paper indefinitely as long as I was healthy enough to drag myself down to the newsroom.”



Her appreciable candor extends to her memories of first obtaining the position in 1977.  As she recalled about the bottom-line hiring standards imposed by the paper’s publisher William Casey: “Bill said anybody can work here as long as they’re not an asshole.  You know, over the years I have had some pretty strong opinions and worked on a bunch of campaigns; there has never been any flack from anybody here about how I should shut up . . . because it was a place where people respected free speech and the idealism of the Fourth Estate.”

There is still a long way to go in 2013, but this has my early vote for college media quote of the year.

Dieterle gave a similarly juicy one almost exactly three years ago for an in-house university report.  Her initial thoughts on joining the Daily Iowan: “[T]he DI’s reputation as a very liberal, far-out place– to the point of appearing ‘scandalous’ to some– was very appealing.  When I told people I was working there, I heard worried comments about the loose living of the staff, drugs, drinking, etc.  This did not put me off at all.”


Daily Iowan Dance Marathon Coverage a Reporting Tour de Force

Blogger Criticizes Daily Iowan; Daily Iowan Hires Him

Daily Iowan Editor-in-Chief Resigns After Mugshots Published with Meth Story

Brian Ringer has resigned from his position as director of student media at the University of Oklahoma, according to multiple trusted sources at OU.

Most recently, in a brief phone chat, Judy Gibbs Robinson, the editorial adviser to The Oklahoma Daily and OUDaily.com, confirmed, “It is my understanding that Brian has resigned.”


It is unclear at the moment when he officially tendered his resignation, or if the official part has even yet occurred. But he apparently left the building, literally, yesterday   A student editor at OU described the scene Tuesday in Copeland Hall, student media’s HQ:

“Brian left the building a few moments before Susan Sasso, associate vice president and associate dean of students, walked in and gathered up all of the pro staff.  She led them over to a conference room inside The Oklahoma Daily’s office and they stayed there for maybe an hour. Eventually, Brian was led back over to the building by an unidentified man and I saw him cleaning out his office.  It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.  He packed up his office, box by box, was escorted to the parking lot and handed over his keys.”

As of this afternoon, Ringer’s bio is still featured on the OU Student Media website. He is also still the contact person on the main phone line voicemail.

Emails to Sasso, OU public affairs staffer Jerri Culpepper, and Ringer have so far gone unanswered.  From what I gather, a university statement is forthcoming.  I will post the statement and any replies I receive as they come in.

It is my understanding at this time there is NOT a connection between Ringer’s departure and the parking tickets lawsuit filed late last week by a former OU Daily editor.

If you have any additional information, please email me.

A former Oklahoma Daily online editor is suing the University of Oklahoma to gain access to student parking ticket records.

Joey Stipek, an OU senior, filed the lawsuit Friday against university president David Boren and Open Records Office director Rachel McCombs.  The suit alleges the school has repeatedly, and illegally, rebuffed his efforts to acquire “records he believes are public”– and potentially newsworthy.


As he wrote in March, “OU gave out almost 52,000 parking citations last year, then dismissed almost a third of them. But you won’t find out here whether athletes, student leaders, faculty or any other special interest group got special treatment.  The reason?  OU won’t release the records.”

Why the lawsuit specifically?  Stipek’s attorney Nick Harrison, also a former OU Daily staffer, tells the Student Press Law Center it is partially to keep the university honest. In his words, “Administrators try to sit and wait it out until students graduate or lose interest.  They don’t think they have to follow the law.”

The university is citing the privacy monster FERPA (the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act) as the backbone behind its decision to not release the ticket info.

In a letter to the Daily this spring, the school’s director of parking and transportation services noted “the university has provided information on locations of tickets given and statistics regarding the numbers of tickets issued . . . [as well as] information related to any non-student ticket recipient, including faculty, staff or university guests to whom the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act does not apply.” (Stipek denies the latter claim in his lawsuit, saying the university told him it did not possess “the technological capabilities” to separate students from non-students in its tickets database.)


Bottom line, for now, from OU’s view, student tickets are exempt from public scrutiny.

How truly private are parking tickets though, given their actual targets and method of distribution?  In March, SPLC executive director Frank LoMonte told the Daily, “Tickets are issued to cars, not people. The ticket is not a record belonging to and directly relating to the student. . . . A parking ticket is left stuck on the window of a car where passing pedestrians can look at it.  Would the college put your report card underneath your windshield wiper, or a copy of your transcript?

At least one superior court judge in North Carolina also finds the FERPA foundation shaky when it comes to student parking violations.  In a spring 2011 ruling related to a parking tickets access lawsuit filed by UNC’s Daily Tar Heel and other media, judge Howard Manning voiced his support for transparency.  As he wrote at the time, “FERPA does not provide a student with an invisible cloak so that the student can remain hidden from public view.”

In a related sense, the Daily has been waging a larger transparency fight since last fall– filing lots of public records requests and even keeping a running tally on its website.

As top staff explained in an editorial in November, “The average citizen won’t often check a committee’s minutes or a politician’s phone records, but these freedoms allow the press to do it for you and to engage in the reporting that uncovers and stops abuses of power. . . . So from now on, we’ll be watching. We’ll be filing more requests for access to significant records so we can fulfill our role by give you the information you need to intelligently wield your political power.”


The most recent request, submitted by the paper yesterday, is for a rundown of all lawsuits filed against university leadership in the past five years.  The stated rationale is “to get a better perspective on what this most recent lawsuit means for OU.”


University of Oklahoma Student Media Director Resigns

Oklahoma Daily Has Filed 147 Open Records Requests So Far This Year– See Them All on Its Website

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

Student Parking Violations: Off-Limits or Fair to Report?

%d bloggers like this: