Posts Tagged ‘College Media’

An interesting journalism ethics battle is being waged at Boston’s Emerson College over an unpublished op-ed.  Student members of something called Emerson Progressives and Radicals in Defense of Employees (PRIDE) claim editors of The Berkeley Beacon attempted to change the stance of an op-ed submitted to the paper so that it aligned more with their opinions.  Beacon editors deny the charge.

The 30-second backstory: The student group PRIDE formed last month at Emerson to “give a voice to security guards, dining hall workers, and maintenance workers at the college.”  Soon after its creation, a pair of security guards were fired for allowing an unauthorized man into a campus dorm– where he went on an attempted stealing spree.  An Emerson student and PRIDE member penned an op-ed supporting the security guards– arguing the current crew overall is underpaid, short-staffed, hastily trained, overly scrutinized, and attempting to keep everyone safe amid “murky rules.”  So, in essence, according to the op-ed draft, the recent intruder was not the guards’ fault as much as the school’s and the system it has put in place.  The student sent the op-ed to the Beacon.  It was not published.  Why?  Speaking of murky. . .

PRIDE members are handing out a flier accusing Beacon editors of stepping over their editorial-ethical boundaries and effectively killing the piece prior to publication.  The flier– which also features the unpublished op-ed in full– alleges, “Instead of editing for structure and grammar, most of the comments [from Beacon editors to the student writer] were blatant opinions. . . . The three editors inserted their own bias into this editorial piece, which is not the intention of the editing process for op-eds.”

In an editor’s note published yesterday acknowledging the flier and accusations, the Beacon fully disputes any “editorial improprieties.”  According to the paper’s editorial board,

In the Beacon’s opinion section, we are accustomed to respectfully editing the words of students who disagree with our private views and that of the Beacon’s editorial board.  The diverse opinions we publish are what make that page an arena for students and faculty to exchange ideas.  However, op-eds worth publishing must survive a process of challenge and scrutiny to ensure they hold up against opposing arguments. . . . Shaping a well-reasoned argument requires identifying holes, unfounded accusations, broad generalizations, logical inconsistencies, unidentified sources, and unattributed statistics in its construction.  Working with writers to clear up those issues strengthens their credibility and ours.  It is with the intention of improving the integrity of an op-ed that we give edits.  If a writer is unwilling to revise a piece in such a way that it meets that standard, we reserve the right not to publish it.

The larger related ethical question pertinent to student press everywhere:

What are the proper procedures for editing op-eds– especially ones dealing with controversial topics, written by contributors with obvious agendas or espousing viewpoints you are personally aghast at or against?

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A years-long newsbin and free press fight has reemerged at Oregon State University.  It involves OSU administrators, a conservative campus newspaper, and what one side sees as censorship and the other as simple enforcement of school rules.

The 60-second backstory: In early 2009, OSU officials suddenly removed a set of bins carrying the conservative student newspaper The Liberty from spots around campus.  At the time, admins. said their actions were in accordance with “an existing, unwritten policy that restricts where off-campus newspaper bins could be placed.”  It was also apparently part of a campus clean-up effort.

Liberty staff disagreed with those rationales, vehemently.  They pointed out the paper was an on-campus pub, published since 2002 and aligned with a recognized student group.  They claimed the bin removal reeked of nothing more than censorship and double standards, providing the longtime student newspaper The Daily Barometer with “special distribution” privileges.

A top Liberty editor said at the time: “Basically, we just want to have a couple of square feet on campus where we can place our bins.”  The paper filed a lawsuit.  A district court judge dismissed it, determining that the university had the right to afford its official student publications with certain privileges such as increased distribution that were not offered to alternative, independent or underground outlets.

The most memorable quote, post-dismissal, came from OSU’s news and communications director.  He declared the fight more a publicity stunt than an actual free press battle: “This was very much an exercise in increased visibility. The story line: a big, oppressive, liberal university squelches a small, defenseless, conservative magazine. We’re glad this matter has been resolved.”

That resolution, however, is now on hold.  Reversing the lower court decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is granting trial clearance for the Liberty to once again pursue their claim of campus distribution discrimination.

As one of the ruling judges noted, “The policy that OSU enforced against plaintiffs . . . was not merely unwritten. It was also unannounced and had no history of enforcement.  It materialized like a bolt of out of the blue to smite the Liberty’s, but not the Daily Barometer’s, newsbins onto the trash heap.”

A portion of a statement from the Liberty’s legal counsel: “Universities should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas.  Students don’t deserve censorship for having viewpoints that university officials don’t happen to favor. The argument that the independent student paper’s bins were confiscated to ‘clean up’ the campus was simply not believable.”

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Alligator v. University of Florida: Newsstand Fight Now a Lawsuit

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David Schick spent months on a $16 million story— before hitting a nearly $3,000 wall.  In Schick’s words, “The wall took the form of exorbitant Open Records Act costs.”

Since late last spring semester, the editor-in-chief of The Collegian has been investigating a $16 million budget deficit at Georgia Perimeter College and the accompanying controversial removal of the school president.

Over the summer, a new number entered– and has continued to partially hold up– Schick’s investigation: $2,963.39.  GPC administrators initially charged the Collegian that amount to fulfill a standard open records request for documents related to the budget turmoil.  The sudden, extreme fee was a gigantic deviation from GPC’s response to three previous Collegian requests.  For those requests, the school supplied more than 1,200 pages of documents, which required 39 hours of staff work to ferret out and compile, for FREE.

So, to review…

First three requests over the summer: handled for free.

Fourth request, very similar to the first three: Close to $3,000.

In a letter to the school, Student Press Law Center executive director Frank LoMonte called the fourth request charge “excessive.”  After the SPLC intervention, GPC dropped the fee to a still seemingly egregious $1,900.

Local legal counsel assisting the Collegian– obtained through the SPLC referral network– described the latter amount as “arbitrary, capricious, and deliberately designed to obstruct access to public information of obvious critical concern.”

According to the counsel’s separate letter to the school, the paper “is willing to pay $100 . . . to obtain the documents requested.”  Schick is hopeful for a resolution soon.

My Take: GPC officials, a bit of free advice.  You cannot erase a $16 million deficit by over-charging people who are requesting the truth.  Your school’s obviously in trouble.  The student paper simply wants to help, in part by providing answers about how you got into this mess and how you can clean it up.  Obstructing their efforts just seems lame, and out of step with the transparency needed to right your revenue ship.  As anyone who’s followed Wall Street knows, moral and economic deficits often run together.

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A 20-Cent Public Records Fight Pits Cal Poly vs. Student Newspaper

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Certain sources sporting active Twitter feeds are especially valuable to journalism students.

As I mentioned in the first part of this two-part list, some accounts provide resources, advice, and links to help students learn the craft.  Others enable students to keep up with what journalists are debating, enjoying, and attempting to understand on a daily basis.  And still others offer relevant news and blueprints for covering campus life and keeping up with higher education issues.

Building off the accounts featured in part one– such as @NiemanLab and @SPLC– here is an additional set of must-follow Twitter feeds.  They are listed in alphabetical order.

@acpress: Kept by staff at the Associated Collegiate Press, the largest and oldest U.S. student journalism membership organization.  More than 2,000 followers.

@AEJMC: Kept by staff at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, “the oldest and largest alliance of journalism and mass communication educators and administrators at the college level.”  More than 4,800 followers.

@atompkins: Kept by Al Tompkins, a beloved longtime broadcast journalist and senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.  More than 7,100 followers.

@bloghighed: Kept by staff at BlogHighEd, a blogger network aiming to “aggregate higher ed blogs from many areas: webmasters, marketers, counselors, vendors, consultants, and more.”  More than 4,900 followers.

@bradwolverton: Kept by Brad Wolverton, a senior writer who covers college sports for The Chronicle of Higher Education, including the blog Players.  More than 2,000 followers.

@carr2n: Kept by David Carr, a top media reporter, blogger, and columnist for The New York Times.  More than 389,000 followers.

@CFashionista: Kept by staff at College Fashionista, “a college fashion site for those passionate about [the] latest fashion styles & trends across campuses worldwide.”  More than 10,000 followers.

@charlesapple: Kept by Charles Apple, a longtime journalist and educator who maintains a popular visual journalism blog aligned with the American Copy Editors Society.  More than 3,500 followers.

@chronicle: Kept by staff at The Chronicle of Higher Education, “the leading news source for higher education.”  More than 52,000 followers.

@CJR: Kept by staff at the Columbia Journalism Review, a leading journalism industry magazine which “tracks the ongoing evolution of the media business.”  More than 19,000 followers.

@CollegeFashion: Kept by staff at College Fashion, “the number-one online fashion, style & beauty magazine written by college students, for college students.”  More than 16,000 followers.

@CollegeMag: Kept by staff at College Magazine, “the only uncensored source for everything college.”  More than 4,300 followers.

@collegemedia: Kept by me, a complement to this blog. More than 2,300 followers.

@collegeprobs: Kept by Madeline Huerta, as part of College Problems, a popular blog featuring humorous user-submitted complaints and confessions about college life.  More than 20,000 followers.

@danieldevise: Kept by Washington Post higher education reporter Daniel de Vise, in part a complement to his blog Campus, Inc., which focuses on “campus life from a business perspective.”  More than 2,900 followers.

@DiverseIssues: Kept by staff at the newsmagazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, the “premier news source for higher education and diversity issues.”  More than 2,700 followers.

@Deggans: Kept by Eric Deggans, the television and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times who maintains the popular blog The Feed.  More than 6,900 followers.

@ErikWemple: Kept by Erik Wemple, a Washington Post “editor-turned-blogger who’s obsessed with the media issues of the day.”  More than 4,600 followers.

@FakeAPStylebook: A popular stream of comedic and satirical advice for journalists.  More than 299,000 followers.

@hackcollege: Kept by staff at HackCollege, an acclaimed “student-powered lifehacking site” sporting the motto “Work smarter, not harder.”  More than 4,500 followers.

@HerCampus: Kept by staff at Her Campus, “the #1 national online community for college women, covering style, health, love, life, and career, with chapters at 200+ colleges.”  More than 11,000 followers.

@HuffPostCollege: Kept by staff at HuffPost College, the section of the Huffington Post behemoth focused on “breaking news from U.S. colleges and universities . . . campus life, college costs, collegiate sports, and university scandals.”  More than 39,000 followers.

@insidehighered: Kept by staff at Inside Higher Ed, “the online source for news, opinion, and jobs for all of higher education.”  More than 39,000 followers.

@IRE_NICAR: Kept by staff at Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., “a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting.”  More than 5,000 followers.

@ivygate: Kept by staff at IvyGate, a leading “news, gossip, and commentary blog that covers the Ivy League.”  More than 4,200 followers.

@jackshafer: Kept by Jack Shafer, a highly-respected Reuters columnist who covers politics and the media.  More than 30,000 followers.

@Journojobs: Regular updates on “the latest, highest paying journalism jobs in the U.S.”  More than 3,700 followers.

@JustinPopeAP: Kept by Justin Pope, a national higher education reporter for The Associated Press.  More than 1,600 followers.

@macloo: Kept by Mindy McAdams, an online journalism professor at the University of Florida respected for “[a]lways doing some kind of journalism training (multimedia, social media, online), somewhere in the world.”  More than 6,800 followers.

@mbmarklein: Kept by Mary Beth Marklein, a veteran higher education reporter at USA TODAY who covers “college admissions, college graduation, and pretty much everything in between.”  More than 3,000 followers.

@NanetteAsimov: Kept by Nanette Asimov, a higher education reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.  More than 3,000 followers.

@nextgenjournal: Kept by staff at NextGen Journal, the only national news and commentary outlet by students for students, branded as “the platform for our generation.”  More than 2,200 followers.

@nytimescollege: Kept by New York Times senior editor and author Jacques Steinberg, affiliated with his top college admissions and financial aid blog The Choice.  More than 7,500 followers.

@RCFP: Kept by staff at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “a nonprofit association dedicated to providing free legal assistance to journalists.”  More than 2,100 followers.

@robcurley: Kept by Rob Curley, a highly-regarded “new media journalist, manager, and strategist” who serves as an editor at The Orange County Register.  More than 1,800 followers.

@SPJGenerationJ: Kept by staff at the Society of Professional Journalists, as part of its initiative Generation J, “the place where future newsroom leaders can collaborate to build newsrooms of the future.”  More than 700 followers.

@TheFIREorg: Kept by staff at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, “the premier organization defending free speech, due process, and academic freedom on college campuses.”  More than 5,500 followers.

@webjournalist: Kept by Robert Hernandez, “one of the few true veterans of web journalism” and an assistant professor within the University of Southern of California’s School of Communication and Journalism.  More than 9,000 followers.

@wiredcampus: Kept by four Chronicle of Higher Education staffers as a complement to the popular blog Wired Campus, which tracks “the latest news on tech and education.”  More than 8,500 followers.

@wpjenna: Kept by Washington Post higher education reporter Jenna Johnson, in part a complement to her Campus Overload blog, which provides “a syllabus for navigating the high-powered campus social scene.”  More than 12,000 followers.

Related

20 Must-Follow Twitter Feeds for Student Journalists

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Welcome to the sixth episode of the College Media Podcast.  The CMP is a 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 Sunday afternoon, we discussed the recent exchange between digital news guru Steve Buttry and I regarding the advantages and challenges embedded within student press innovation efforts.

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College Media Podcast #5: USA TODAY Redesign & the American University Breastfeeding Controversy

College Media Podcast #4: The Harvard Crimson Quote Review Reversal & More Gaming the News

College Media Podcast #3: RNC, Student Newspaper Presidential Endorsements & Gaming the News

College Media Podcast #2: RNC, Princeton Review Rankings, Oklahoma Daily Autopsy Report

College Media Podcast #1: A Red & Black Breakdown

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Welcome to the first edition of the College Media Podcast.  The CMP is a new collaborative venture between me and the Center for Innovation in College Media‘s Bryan Murley.

In upcoming episodes, we plan to spotlight big college media news, standout student press work, and array of helpful and innovative sites, programs, and tech tools.

In our premiere podcast, recorded Friday afternoon, we discussed the Red & Black drama at the University of Georgia.  (Click the gray play button at the very bottom next to the volume icon to listen right here on CMM or click on the screenshot to check it out on SoundCloud.)

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College Media Podcast – Episode 1

Red & Black Becomes Red & Dead: Student Staff Quits, Protesting Loss of Editorial Control

Open Letter to Red & Black Board of Directors: What the Heck Are You Thinking?!

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The University of Memphis has slashed funding for The Daily Helmsman by $25,000 for the upcoming academic year, a full third of the usual financial assistance the paper receives from student activities fees.  Some current and former staffers of the campus newspaper view the dramatic cutback as possible retaliation for controversial editorial content.

According to a Commercial Appeal story earlier today, Memphis administrators and members of the student government have publicly and privately expressed their unhappiness at the paper’s recent coverage and a perceived lack of focus on UM.  UM’s dean of students: “I can’t begin to tell you the examples that came up in [a recent meeting with the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee] about things that the paper did print that seem to have very little relevance or that seemed to touch very, very few students on the campus.”

Hmm.  Those concerns seem strange, nay ridonkulously wrong, given the amount of high-profile stories the Helmsman broke and reported upon over the past year alone.  Staffers spotlit serious campus issues involving everything from retention rates, athletics revenue (or lack of it), and potential crime reporting violations to student-athlete misconduct oversights, student ID card theft, and a rape in an on-campus apartment carried out by an individual living there under the guise of being a UM student.  The list goes on…

So, what’s really going on here?  Helmsman general manager Candy Justice says censorship: “It’s a First Amendment violation.  It’s just one more example of what the Helmsman has to put up with.”

The university says editorial concerns were not part of the fee allocation committee’s funding decision, pointing out there was an overall drop in available funding for all campus groups.

Justice told the Commercial Appeal the Helmsman may be forced to cut publishing days or staff pay due to the budget chop.

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