Posts Tagged ‘The Red & Black’

Allegations of Ivy League hazing. Alice in Wonderland on LSD. A Biblical studies professor busted in a child predator sting. A student squirrel whisperer. A 280-pound black bear falling from a tree. And something called milking.

These buzzwords and teaser descriptions factor into a few of the many viral creations published or posted by college media over the past year. The student press was responsible for an especially high number of viral reports, columns, videos, photos, headlines, and tweets in 2012.

Some were deliberate attempts for clicks, shares, and attention. Others were scandals featuring student journalists at the center. And still others were quiet bits of content that became sudden sideshows within the Internet circus, for better and worse.

Collectively, their moments in the digital spotlight offer a fascinating foundation for a student press year in review– a glimpse at what was especially popular, controversial, funny, unexpected, and out of control.

In that spirit, here is part 2 of a chronological rundown of top college media moments and content that blew up online in 2012.

Check out part 1 of this rundown

THE FAMOUS FALLING BEAR

Late last spring semester, a student journalist’s photo of a tranquilized bear went viral– and almost spurred a lawsuit.

In April, Andrew Duann, a student photographer for The CU Independent, snapped an instantly iconic shot of a black bear falling from a tree near a University of Colorado residence hall village.  The animal had been tranquilized by local wildlife officials and was subsequently taken into temporary custody for its own– and others’– protection.

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Duann’s photo of the creature almost immediately became a web sensation. As Denver’s Westword reported, “[W]ithin four hours or so [of its posting], it had become a Facebook and Twitter smash, as well as winding up on Gawker, Reddit, Yahoo, and more traditional news platforms such as CBS4, 7News, Fox 31, the Boulder Daily Camera and the Denver Post. . . . The surge of traffic eventually crashed the Independent’s site.” The animal became knownin some circles as “Boulder’s famous ‘falling bear.'”

And then came a post-viral twist: In the wake of the photo’s online success and its republishing by other news outlets, Duann briefly looked into legal action against his own paper. As Poynter’s MediaWire confirmed, Duann was “upset that the paper’s adviser . . . allowed publications around the world to reproduce the photo, asking most outlets only for it to be credited to Duann and the CU Independent.”

Duann considered the bear shot his personal copyrighted property, even though he was on the paper’s staff and apparently supplied it willingly for the story it accompanied. He ultimately did not file suit.

Days later, in the story’s saddest twist, the bear was killed after being hit by two cars on a highway outside Boulder, Colo.

RED AND DEAD

The most viral– and arguably the most significant– student press story in 2012 was the temporary mass resignation of The Red & Black staff at the University of Georgia. In mid-August, editors, reporters, photographers, and designers at the campus newspaper quit in protest over what they felt was an unacceptable level of editorial control being exerted by non-students.

Their concerns centered on the increased hiring of outside professionals and the accompanying “serious pressure” they were placing on content and everyday newsroom decisions.  As an editor said in a statement announcing the staff’s resignation, “I felt like it was unethically turning into something that we were trained not to do, from grip and grin photos to not letting us do our own work. It wasn’t our paper anymore.”

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In response, the students started a separate news site of their own with an unsubtle symbolic name, Red and Dead. Their efforts received national attention and thousands of devotees on Facebook and Twitter. Many championed them as student press heroes.  The paper’s publisher said he thought their resignation was an overreaction.

Less than a week after the protests began, the students and the Red & Black board of directors reached an agreement to resume R&B production.  The staff was also reinstated, on the grounds “that students have editorial control over the contents of our publications with no prior review.”

BRYAN COLLEGE IS NOT PENN STATE

In late September, the editor in chief of The Bryan College Triangle at Tennessee’s Bryan College self-published a controversial story about a former professor charged with sex crimes involving a minor.  Alex Green wrote, printed, and distributed the article on his own four days after Bryan’s president told him it could not be run in the paper.

The article outlines the real reason behind the sudden, quiet resignation of a Biblical studies professor at the Christian school: his arrest over the summer in an FBI sting while attempting to meet a minor at a Georgia gas station.  Charges include “attempted aggravated child molestation and child sexual exploitation.”  When Green initially inquired about the professor’s departure, the school told him he was leaving “to pursue other opportunities.”

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In an editor’s note included in the self-published issue, headlined “Why It’s Important,” Green wrote, “Bryan College is not Penn State.  Had one individual in the Penn State program stepped up and revealed the truth about the actions of Jerry Sandusky, there would have been no fallout 14 years later.  Joe Paterno could have died a hero.  Instead, he died a goat. Penn State could have been praised.  Instead, they are broken. . . . Printing this story will not cause a Penn State situation for Bryan. I believe it will prevent one.”

The Chattanooga Times Free Press confirmed at the time “reporters and editors around the country [are] talking about the fifth-year senior’s decision to publish against the administration’s wishes.”  A student at another Tennessee Christian school wrote to Green on his Facebook wall, “You are an inspiration.”

In a public statement issued the day after Green distributed the article, the Bryan College president said his spiking of the story “may have been a mistake.” In his words, “Our intent was to look at the situation as Christians and do what was right. As humans, we are fallible. What we can do is learn from our mistakes.”

THE SQUIRREL WHISPERER

In early October, Onward State posted a profile of Mary Krupa, a Penn State University freshman “best known for playing with squirrels, while also donning them with tiny-squirrel sized hats.”  The student news site dubbed Krupa nothing less than a full-blown “squirrel whisperer.”

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In the post, Krupa is described with “squirrels . . . climbing on her, sitting on her forearm, and generally gathering around her.” She even has a favorite: Sneezy The Penn State Squirrel.

Since the Onward State story appeared, Krupa has evolved from a “mini-web phenomenon” to a full-blown “world sensation.” She has been featured on a host of sites and shows such as Mashable, Yahoo News, Penn State Network, two Taiwanese outlets, BuzzFeed, something called Neatorama, and Tosh.0.

Sneezy also now has a Facebook page to help share his “squirrely wonderfulness with the world.” It currently boasts more than 6,000 “likes.”

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AS FORTHCOMING AS YOU LIKE

In November, officials at the State University of New York at Oswego– known as Oswego State– threatened an international journalism student with suspension and campus banishment.  The student’s case– and the interim suspension he faced while it was handled– sparked what The Oswegonian student newspaper called a “national outcry” and placed the school at “the center of a national freedom of speech debate.”

For a story on the Oswego State hockey coach he was completing for a class assignment, Australian exchange student Alex Myers emailed fellow coaches at three nearby schools.  In the message, he identified himself as a staffer in the school’s public affairs office, where he worked part-time.  He also urged the coaches, “Be as forthcoming as you like, what you say about [the Oswego State coach] does not have to be positive.”  The statement struck at least one of the emailed coaches as offensive.

It also prompted Oswego State officials to charge Myers with disruptive behavior.  Coupled with a separate charge of dishonesty (for misrepresenting himself as part of public affairs), Myers was temporarily suspended and told he must leave campus almost immediately. The disruption charge was ultimately dropped and his suspension lifted, but Myers still lost the public affairs job.  He was also forced to send an apology to the hockey coach and write a piece “to share with other students in journalism classes . . . what you have learned from your experience.”

Myers said the immense news coverage of the situation was surreal, apparently even reaching his native Australia. “It is kind of embarrassing to have my biggest error over my university career to be broadcasted nationally,” he told the Oswegonian. “It’s definitely tarnished journalism for me.”

UDDER MADNESS

The year’s final student-centric online craze continues to gather oodles of fat-free, skim, 1 percent, and unpasteurized buzz.  In late November, a small posse of U.K. college students and young graduates premiered an activity— dubbed milking– with a video round-up “destined to become an Internet sensation.”  It has spurred press coverage and copycat videos produced by students across Britain, Scotland, and, increasingly, the U.S.

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As The Tab at Britain’s Leeds University explained, “Similar in difficulty to its viral cousin planking, milking simply requires the participant to purchase some milk and then pour it over their head.  The result is a thing of beauty.”

A comment beneath the video confirmed, “This is legen…dairy.”  An online Time magazine story similarly declared, “Move Over Planking: ‘Milking’ is the Internet’s Latest Silly Meme.”  And U.K. tabloid The Sun shared simply, “It’s udder madness!”

To read the full review on PBS MediaShift, click here or on the screenshot below.

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Yesterday afternoon, the University of Georgia football squad tore apart in-state rival Georgia Tech University to earn a shot at the SEC title and a berth in the BCS national championship game.  In a column published the day before the shellacking, Red & Black opinion editor Blake Seitz at UGA unleashed a similarly harsh editorial smackdown of sorts aimed at the Technique, Georgia’s Tech’s student newspaper.

The focus of Seitz’s ire: To Hell With Georgia, a special satirical issue published annually by the Technique prior to the UGA-GT game.  Over the years, within the issue, the Technique staff has not-so-subtly poked fun at general UGA stereotypes including “alcohol, rednecks, farm animals, and lots of dawgs.”

Among the headlines topping faux stories in the current issue focused on UGA: “Sesame Street Too Hard for UGA Students, Romney Right All Along”; “Red Solo Cups Deemed Reusable”; “Honey Boo Boo to Talk at Graduation”; “Tater Tot Addiction No. 3 Biggest Craze After Drinking, Incest”; and “Cars in Athens Pimped Out with Tape.”

A separate editorial cartoon depicts a beer can, wine bottle, needle filled with meth, and a DVD containing pornography as “UGA Study Guides.”  Also in the issue, a two-page spread sporting nothing more than the huge, blood-red words “To Hell with Georgia!”  As a tiny strip of text underneath the words notes, “This space provided as a public service by the Technique.”

Apparently, it’s all about tradition.  As an editorial on page two explains, “Some 101 years ago, the first edition of the Technique . . . was a four-page paper that focused primarily on the upcoming football contest with Georgia.  It predicted, arrogantly and incorrectly, that the Jackets would triumph over the Bulldogs.  From these ‘modest’ roots, the present day Technique came into being.  It is these roots that we as a staff honor when we produce ‘To Hell With Georgia.’ . . . While the jokes [in the current issue] may tend to be the same [as those in previous issues], lame or just plain crude, we stay dedicated to the fact of honoring our humble beginnings.”

Nearby, at UGA, Seitz isn’t buying it.  The Red & Black opinion editor views the issue’s stories as the antics of an editorially deficient enterprise and a student body fueled by “undying hatred.”  In his response column, he compares the Technique– and by extension all of Georgia Tech– to “that annoying younger brother you never wanted, who you tried to asphyxiate with a pillow that one time before your mother caught you.”

His take on “To Hell With Georgia” specifically, provided prior to the UGA-GT game: “When, on Saturday, Coach Richt and the boys lay an almighty stomping on the Jackets, and Tech fans are left to yell, ‘Why, why do we continue to field a team in this sport?’ in the smoldering wreckage of their defeat, it will fuel the vicious circle of Georgia Tech’s existence: hate will beget hate, which will beget more silly editions of the Technique for us all to read.  So I guess that’s a lose-lose for everyone.”

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The State Press is doing nothing less than “re-inventing the college newspaper for the 21st century.”  Late last week, the Arizona State University student paper announced a big, bold, headfirst leap into the digital journalism wonderland.

The State Press 2.0 will premiere in January.  It will drop its daily print edition in favor of a bulked-up weekly and “digital products [that] include a new website optimized for viewing on mobile devices, updated iPhone and Android apps, as well as a new iPad app.”

As an editorial about the upcoming reinvention shares, “Each day, we ask ourselves: What is the future of journalism? . . . There are many unknowns, but one thing is certain: Our way of doing journalism is not the way of our parents or professors.  Our journalism unfolds in real time with a deadline of ‘now.’  It is fast-paced, demanding, and continuously redefining itself.  We are a part of that ‘now’ generation, and in order for the State Press to provide this kind of journalism, we must think digitally.”

Along with accepting the changing news landscape and proactively meeting readers’ increasing online, social media, and mobile needs, ASU student media director Jason Manning says the shift will also be an educational nirvana.  Great quote alert: “The truth is our students are probably not going to be asked to layout a daily print newspaper when they hit the professional world.  They’re going to be given assignments that involve data, computer programming, social media, writing for the web, digital design, videography, and a number of other skills that we teach now and will be able to teach more thoroughly with this new approach.”

The State Press is the third A-list, award-winning daily student pub to execute an all-out digital shift, following in the footsteps of The Red & Black at the University of Georgia and the Emerald at the University of Oregon.

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The Red & Black at the University of Georgia ran a full-page “trash-talk advertisement” in Thursday’s paper– against its own football team.  The ad, paid for by supporters of the University of Florida football program, features a strong-armed Gator with gritted teeth taking down a hapless UGA Bulldogs football player.

The image aligns with the thrust of the ad, which lays out a number of reasons “Why Our Gators Will Bury the Dawgs Little Bone . . . Again.”  The number-two ranked Gators are taking on the 10th-ranked Bulldogs this afternoon in a marquee conference match-up.

Red & Black editors are declaring the ad’s publication simply a business decision, telling one reader on Twitter, “We have to sell some ads to bring students free news.”  In the tweet below, they warn all readers about its appearance.

A tongue-in-cheek response from a CBS Sports blogger: “It’s impossible not to be sympathetic to a newspaper at any level looking for whatever revenue stream it can, but the line has to be drawn somewhere, doesn’t it? If funds are that scarce, wouldn’t a bake sale be preferable to publishing an ad like this? A dance-a-thon? Car wash? Talent show? Krispy Kreme dougnut sale? Overpriced chocolate bars?”

A more serious response tweet from a UGA fan:

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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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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

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The Daily Bruin is updating its web look.  The UCLA student newspaper is currently providing readers with a sneak peek at its upcoming digital overhaul.

It is one of several high-profile online redesigns over the past semester or so within collegemediatopia.  Along with the Bruin, below are a few that immediately come to mind– before and after screenshots.

In each case, which one do you like more??  (Without giving too much away, I will confirm there is one set included here in which I absolutely like the look of the old site better.)

The Daily Bruin, UCLA

Current

Coming soon…

The Red & Black, University of Georgia

Before

After

The Daily Emerald, University of Oregon

Before

After

The Pipe Dream, Binghamton University

Before

After

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