CMM Special Series: What Do Student Journalists Want to Learn More About Journalism? (Part 2)

During his recent efforts to help plan programming for the fall 2015 ACP/CMA National College Media Convention — the world’s largest annual gathering of student journalists and their advisers and profs — David Simpson wanted to hear more from the students themselves. Specifically, he was curious: In these changing times, what do potential student attendees want to get most from a journalism conference experience? So Simpson, a revered veteran journalist and director of student media at Georgia Southern University, reached out to me with his student-first query. I in turn reached out to the summer 2015 CMM Editorial Fellows — an elite crew of current and recent student journalists.

For this CMM special series, 14 Fellows offer their perspectives, ideas and advice centered on a single question: What topic, tech tool, news beat, skill-set or current event would you love to learn more about, lead a session on or help debate during a journalism convention? Their answers run the gamut — touching on everything from science journalism and Snapchat to sexual assault coverage and workflow management.

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What Do Student Journalists Want to Learn More About Journalism?
Part 2: ‘Best Practices, Pros, Cons & Even Some Mistakes’

By Emma Discher, Tulane University

Summer 2015 CMM Editorial Fellow

I have spent the past three Halloween weekends at the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention. It quickly became one of my favorite weekends of the year because I can geek out about journalism with other student and professional journalists. Here are my ideas for possible convention sessions to be included in Austin later this year:

– A Digital-First Sports Section. As journalism becomes more digitally-driven across the board, I want to have conversations and share experiences about what it means for specific sections — starting with sports. I think sports editors have an excellent opportunity to be leaders in the digital movement given the scope of their coverage, the potential for constant updates and a set audience. In a related session, I want to explore how different sports sections have incorporated the digital shift into their daily work. I know that with The Hullabaloo, live-tweeting sporting events, interacting with sports fans on social media and consistently posting articles has been the method to building up a large sports news following.

– Snapchat as a News Platform. Snapchat has been evolving more and more from a sexting platform to a news platform. They recently hired former CNN political reporter Peter Hamby to be their news head and introduced the Snapchat Discover feature. Many professional news outlets and a small but growing number of student media including the Hullabaloo and the Emerald at the University of Oregon have developed Snapchats with different focuses and protocols. A session bringing together staffers from some of these outlets to discuss their Snapchat experiences and best practices would enhance everyone’s work and motivate student media itching to start a Snapchat news account of their own.

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– Covering Student Death. Seven Tulane University students died during the 2014-’15 school year — three suicides, two accidents and one murder-suicide. Cries for mental health resources reform broke out around campus. The Hullabaloo covered it all, but not without a lot of thought and conversation. Covering death as a student journalist can be especially difficult, as those doing the reporting may be closer to their subjects than professional journalists working in a city or larger coverage area. I think it would be beneficial to hear from those who covered the situation at Tulane and students and professionals who have covered similar situations elsewhere.

– Must-Have Apps for Journalists. One of my favorite sessions from Philadelphia last year was on photojournalism. The leader went through a handful of photo apps and demoed them in front of the group. The session introduced me to apps that I have and use all the time now. I loved being able to take something more tangible home. Let’s expand this session to a range of apps that journalists in all areas of the newsroom could benefit from knowing more about or using regularly.

– Periscope. Similar to Snapchat, Periscope is popping up more frequently as the must-try new experiment for journalists. I would love to gather some early advice on best practices, pros, cons and even some mistakes so I know how to best implement it.

– Staff Retention in an Unpaid, Non-Credit Newsroom. Students usually join college media at first due to an interest in journalism. But how do we keep these students around once classwork, outside jobs and competing extracurriculars start piling up — especially when cash or credits can’t be offered? I would love to hear from other students leading unpaid, non-credit newsrooms about how they keep their staffers around, and motivated.

Emma Discher is a senior communication and political science major at Tulane University. She is editor-in-chief of The Hullabaloo. She is also a summer 2015 CMM Editorial Fellow.

Check out other parts of this CMM special series

Part 1: ‘The Interesting Important & the Important Interesting’ by Danielle Klein, University of Toronto

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