Posts Tagged ‘The Cornell Daily Sun’

Be productive. Find a point to pointlessness. And fool around a bit.  These are teasers from a few of the tips offered recently by student journalists.

As fall semester and this calendar year came to a close, editors, and columnists at campus newspapers nationwide earnestly reflected on lessons learned, experiences undertaken, and dreams that lay ahead. In some cases, their reflections double as de facto New Year’s resolutions for their student peers to consider.

Below is a sampling of these resolutions, all of them appearing late last semester within student newspaper columns and op-eds.

Be Productive Over Break.  As The Minnesota Daily editorial board at the University of Minnesota advises, “[W]hile break is certainly a good time for well-deserved rest, it’s also important to take advantage of our free time and use it productively. Spending some time looking for scholarships, applying for jobs or internships, polishing résumés, and planning out the rest of the year are important tasks that most of us will eventually have to complete. Therefore, over break, we might as well get them done before homework, exams, and those pestering online quizzes overly burden us.”

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Enjoy Being Pointless Every Once in A While.  As Duke University junior Lillie Reid argues in The Duke Chronicle, “I’m not saying that having goals and working to attain them is bad. Caring about things and working to do well are possibly the most important attributes of a successful person. The problem arises when we take it too far—when everything has to have a goal-directed point.  When we get so caught up getting what we want that we lose sight of ourselves. . . . Don’t take yourself too seriously. Just because something doesn’t directly contribute to achieving a goal, it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. There is a point to pointlessness.”

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Brace for Change.  As Christopher Witten writes in The Daily Helmsman about his own experiences at the University of Memphis, “[T]here’s one thing I wish I had known when I was a freshman, or more so just been aware of: everything was going to change– my group of friends, my attitude towards college and even my major (a few times), and most of all the university. The school I feared for so long would become my home. So take it from someone who’s done this a time or two: brace for change.”

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Cornell University senior Katerina Athanasiou agrees with Witten, noting in The Cornell Daily Sun, “College is a nomadic time. Every six to ten months, we pack up our things to relocate, whether it be from Ithaca to home, or to a new apartment just a few blocks away, or to another hemisphere for a semester. We are in constant motion. We are always moving in to new places and acquiring stuff to make them homes. This might be the ideal time to reconsider what you own and what you actually need.”

Fool Around a Little Bit.  As Florida State University student Samantha Husted tells underclassmen especially in the FSView & Florida Flambeau, “Your sophomore and freshmen years are a time when you’re supposed to fool around a little bit. Go-out-to-that-party-even-though-you-have-a-test-the-next-morning kind of thing. There’s a lot of room for mistakes and it’s the time when you’re allowed to make a few rash decisions. You’re even allotted a few embarrassing moments that you may or may not regret but will most likely turn into a funny story 20 years from now. It’s during this time that you’re supposed to get not all, but a lot of that craziness out of your semester before you have to face your junior and senior year.”

Believe in Yourself.  As University of Arkansas senior Saba Naseem writes in The Arkansas Traveler, “Keep your head up and hold on to your dreams. Giving up is the ultimate failure. You won’t achieve anything that way. I’ve realized that perhaps I won’t achieve my goals the way I planned, but there are other avenues, and perhaps this is an opportunity for me to explore those. There is something out there for everybody. It’s just a matter of determination, of patience and believing in yourself.”

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In a trend story published in The New York Times last week, freelance reporter Courtney Rubin focused on the changing drinking habits of undergrads in the social media age.

Among Rubin’s findings: Students are determined to get drunk faster, favoring hard liquor and mixed drinks over beer. They increasingly want to be sure a bar is “worth the trip” before heading there, determined in part through friends’ texts and status updates. And they often spend the morning after a night of heavy drinking untagging themselves from embarrassing Facebook photos.

The morning after the piece’s posting though, these apparent trends took a backseat to the factual errors embedded within it. As the high-profile student-run blog IvyGate first revealed, six Cornell University seniors appearing in the feature– the article and an accompanying photo– apparently do not exist.

An editor’s note now implanted beneath the story online notes, “None of the names provided by those students to a reporter and photographer for the Times– Michelle Guida, Vanessa Gilen, Tracy O’Hara, John Montana, David Lieberman, and Ben Johnson– match listings in the Cornell student directory, and the Times has not subsequently been able to contact anyone by those names. The Times should have worked to verify the students’ identities independently before quoting or picturing them for the article.”

Rubin expressed genuine surprise at the mass duping, while confirming she did actually speak to the students.  “I’m honestly shocked by this,” she told The Cornell Daily Sun. “I’m looking at my notebook, going over my notes … It’s all here. I can clearly see where it was in [the bar] where I spoke to them and what they were wearing. Why would I make up names? I don’t make stuff up. Short of asking people for ID, you [assume] that when people give you a name, they represent themselves as who they are or say ‘I don’t want to be quoted.’”

One of the takeaway lessons stemming from the incident, according to Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple: “Journalists do well to double as paranoiacs. Never trust anyone, no matter how much truth serum they’ve drunk out of an oversize cocktail glass.”

Another lesson: Students do not suffer mistakes, or perceived slights, silently.

The IvyGate fact-check is one example. Another example comes from Cornell veterinary medicine student Nikhita Parandekar. In a Cornell Daily Sun column, she points out that while the piece focuses on undergraduates the main photograph shows graduate students.

Parandekar also takes issue with Rubin’s tone toward student socializing and what she sees as a lack of context in the article for why and how often student drinking occurs.

As she writes in the column, headlined “Last Call for Legitimate Journalism”: “The not-so-subtle jibes at … the pre-gaming/hook-up culture seem to be the author venting frustration more than informing readers about anything at all. … I was disappointed in Rubin’s article because it’s the kind of journalism that gives reporters a bad reputation — unashamed about being biased, half-researched, and unnecessarily antagonistic. This is the first time that I’ve ever thought that the crisis newspapers are facing in terms of readership and accessibility might actually be due in part to the newspapers themselves and not just the electronic world that we live in.”

In the latest episode of our College Media Podcast, the Center for Innovation in College Media’s Bryan Murley and I discuss this journalistic slip, its link to trend stories and parachute reporting, and the increasing fearlessness of student media to challenge what they view as incorrect or illegitimate journalism.

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College Media Podcast #6: Student Press Innovation Efforts, Obstacles

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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The latest rankings report listing the country’s “Best College Newspapers has been released by Princeton Review.  The papers are listed below, in order of their selection.

Penn State’s Daily Collegian vaulted to the top, following in the footsteps of its CMM “College Newspaper of the Year” honors earlier this summer.

The Daily Kansan moved up dramatically as well.  The Red & Black, The Michigan Daily, The Daily Nexus at UC Santa Barbara, The Rocky Mountain Collegian at Colorado State University, and The Technician at North Carolina State University all jumped onto the list after not appearing on the 2011 version.  Meanwhile, The Daily Northwestern and The Daily Texan suffered big drops.  The Battalion at Texas A&M had the biggest spiral– dropping from the list after appearing at #5 last year.  The Minnesota Daily, The Daily Mississippian, The Daily Campus at UCONN, and The Hilltop at Howard University also disappeared from the current version.

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The Princeton Review rankings are not without controversy.  As Bryan Murley from the Center for Innovation in College Media confirmed two summers ago, the process by which these papers achieve the “Best” distinction is, well, fairly ridiculous.

Yet, the rankings receive more attention from the public and mainstream media than every other student journalism contest and competition, including the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards (the closest the student press has to the Pulitzer Prizes).  Why?  My guess, without sarcasm or cynicism: It’s an offshoot of the attention given to the sexier rankings such as “Best Party Schools.”

1. The Daily Collegian, Penn State University

2. The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina

3. Yale Daily News, Yale University

4. The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University

(Tie) 5. The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin-Madison

(Tie) 5. The Daily Cardinal, University of Wisconsin-Madison

6. The University Daily Kansan, Kansas University

7. The Diamondback, University of Maryland

8. The Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida

9. The Daily Nexus, UC Santa Barbara

10. The Red & Black, University of Georgia

11. The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University

12. The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University

13. The Daily Orange, Syracuse University

14. The Daily Gamecock, University of South Carolina

15. The Tufts Daily, Tufts University

16. The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan

17. The Post, Ohio University

18. Technician, North Carolina State University

19. The Daily Texan, University of Texas at Austin

20. The Daily Northwestern, Northwestern University

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College Newspaper of the Year, 2011-2012: The Daily Collegian, Penn State University

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