Since my post about Business Insider’s failings went live last weekend, almost everyone has agreed that the outlet produces subpar, rush-job, headline-driven journalism. But many have also stated outright or inferred that I am not in a position to criticize BI or anything else in the news business or that my insights will not be taken seriously. Why? Because I’m a professor, not a “professional.” I’m supposedly an outsider to the “real” industry, unable to fully grasp its structure, day-to-day stresses, and longer-term shifts. The perception that j-profs just don’t “get it” and live in ivory towers far from real journalism must change. Below are five reasons journalism professionals need to accept and should excitedly welcome input and, yes, criticism from journalism professors.
Over the past academic year, there has been an explosion of new or renewed campus activities, pop culture phenomena, tech trends, generational shifts, and social movements started by or significantly impacting students. Most can be summed up in a single word. I’ve noticed a small number of words appearing more frequently, prominently or controversially during the past two semesters on campuses nationwide. Some were brand-new. Others were redefined or reached a tipping point of interest or popularity. And still others showed a remarkable staying power, carrying over from semesters and years past.
Joe Weisenthal regularly works 16-hour days without rest, to the point that his own bosses worry publicly about him burning out and force him to take vacations, his wife needs to tweet him when she really wants his attention, and he occasionally lapses into a catatonic stupor in which he doesn’t do anything for an entire day but watch TV. He regularly publishes content that is “wrong or incomplete or misleading” and full of “air and sugar” (which I take to mean insignificant). He publishes this content for a headline-driven site when he himself says the stock market is not headline-driven. And he races to submit roughly 15 blog posts a day, rarely writing anything above a few hundred words, and hardly ever talking to sources on the phone to verify information or gather context. The New York Times reported all this two weeks ago in a profile on Weisenthal. In a post over the weekend, I had the good sense to raise the question: Is any of this any good?
A recent essay by a Yale University graduating senior reflecting on her time in school and limitless future possibilities is spreading across the wider web in the wake of her sudden death Saturday in a car crash. Within the piece, featured in a special commencement issue of The Yale Daily News, 22-year-old Massachusetts native Marina Keegan shares her affection for the Yale community, defining the security and warmth it provided her as “the opposite of loneliness.”
Description: “As American University School of Public Affairs graduates walked across the stage to accept their diplomas, graduate Sarah Cooper got the surprise of a lifetime. In addition to the excitement of being a new graduate, Cooper is now newly engaged to School of Communication graduate Sam Miller. He proposed on stage in front of family and classmates.”
Roughly two weeks ago, New York Times Magazine published a profile of Joe Weisenthal, a fresh-faced, workaholic, social media whiz who serves as a writer and deputy editor at Business Insider. Upon its online posting, the instant reactions from the journalism cognoscenti seemed to be admiration and disbelief about his insane work ethic and supposed conquering of today’s nonstop news cycle. These reactions are not wrong, just incomplete. While lauded in the Times as a leader of the new wave of all-star newshounds, he is not a role model I would hold up for my own students. In fact, in a number of areas, he literally embodies the opposite of what I want them to strive for.
An odd, public war of words has played out this week between comedian Hannibal Buress and The Daily Eastern News at Eastern Illinois University. It began Sunday evening. In a Comedy Central stand-up special, Buress ranted for five minutes near the start of his set about a three-year-old, 300-word DEN article hyping a campus show he once headlined.
The web address: future.dailyemerald.com. The one-word header atop its homepage: Revolution. And the tagline just beneath it: “The Oregon Daily Emerald, reinvented for the digital age.” The fantastic student newspaper at the University of Oregon– long built atop a daily print edition– is morphing into a “modern college media company.” On a special site that went live earlier today, the outgoing and incoming EICs Tyree Harris and Andy Rossback and publisher Ryan Frank outline a number of big-time changes.
An online student newspaper at Cambridge University is courting controversy for staging a pair of contests asking readers to select the “Rear of the Year.“ – In separate photo breakdowns, The Tab presents a small group of male and female Cambridge students with their butts facing the camera– fully or partially exposed or clearly outlined [...]
His Twitter account bio features a poem: “Lookin in the mirror. Checkin My hair. What Kinda shoes have you got on there? Bitch I’m Jamie, and I like lickin’ shoes.” The “personal interests” on his Facebook page: “Mens boots, Licking shoes, Being exceptionally creepy.” He is the Tampa Bay Shoe Licker.
How are student newspapers faring on Facebook? From a sheer ‘likes’ perspective, most papers’ popularity on the publicly-traded behemoth is at an all-time high. Along with Twitter and YouTube (and with a tiny bit of recent competition from Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram), Facebook remains the top social media and content sharing platform utilized by student [...]
Late last month, Daniel Drake graduated from Pacific Lutheran University. It was marked by a commencement ceremony. Six years ago, he dropped out of school due to low grades. From his current cap-and-gowned vantage point, he believes that moment deserved a ceremony too.
In an op-ed published late last month in The Hoya that I just stumbled upon, a Georgetown University student calls out the private D.C. school’s brain trust for failing to so far launch a full-blown journalism program. As rising senior Dan Healy writes at the start of the piece, headlined “Journalism Program a Major Shortcoming,” “Georgetown offers an impressive array of majors across its four undergraduate schools, including such disparate areas as medieval studies and international political economy. Yet among all these possibilities, one standard area of study remains conspicuously absent– journalism.”
University Press Special Investigation: Florida Atlantic Trustees are Financially Skeevy, Scarily Powerful
Earlier this week, The University Press at Florida Atlantic University unleashed a special issue that oozes investigative awesomeness and reveals some unsavory, ironic truths about those in power at the Palm Beach County public school. The issue’s aim: providing the down-low on the FAU Board of Trustees, the 13-member body that holds ultimate sway over the school’s infrastructure, finances, and future.
The entire top portion of The Spartan Daily homepage has been rejiggered to deliver news of the death of Dwight Bentel. It’s a small, fitting tribute. After all, he’s the reason the paper exists. Bentel spearheaded the formation of the San Jose State University student newspaper in 1934. He also started the SJSU journalism program, [...]