CMM Special Series: What Do Student Journalists Want to Learn More About Journalism? (Part 8)

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 8: ‘Student Media Consumption Habits’

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By Matt LemasUniversity of Southern California

Summer 2015 CMM Editorial Fellow

Engaging and maintaining an audience for college newspapers is no easy feat. Let’s face it, college kids and newspapers are rather foreign to one other. As a friend asked me the other day, “How do I fold one of these things?”

My philosophy is that there is no use in bleeding your heart out for an in-depth, hard-hitting piece if your peers won’t even look up from their Twitter-induced comas to read it. Hope is not lost, of course. College students aren’t neanderthals — though professors leading 8 a.m. classes may beg to differ. The audience is there. For many college newspapers, they are just slightly out of reach.

Thus, I and I’m sure many other college media aficionados, would be highly interested in a convention session that breaks down student media consumption habits. Then, from disseminating those habits, the session would brainstorm how to provide better, more concrete ways to deliver the news to your intended audience of college students.

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A recent screenshot of The Daily Trojan homepage.

Though we are news providers by trade, we have the luxury of also being in the demographic we are writing for. We know how our peers prefer to consume the news — and it’s often not via ink-and-papyrus broadsheets. A session that could harness the brainpower of college journalists — specifically, the innate knowledge they have for their craft and their demographic — could motivate and empower students to reignite their publications.

Some of the best, succinct advice I’ve ever received in regards to college journalism was at the ACP National College Journalism Convention this past spring. The session was eerily, and aptly, titled, “What You Are Not Being Told.” As fellow doe-eyed young journalists and I sat ready with pencils in hand, the session’s instructor locked eyes, let the room go quiet and then asked us, “Why are you so intent on producing for a medium that your generation doesn’t use anymore?”

For me, it was a genuine reality check. The session I have in mind would be the next step in facing that reality.

Matt Lemas is a rising junior majoring in journalism and political science at the University of Southern California. This spring, he served as managing editor of The Daily Trojan. He 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

Part 2: ‘Best Practices, Pros, Cons & Even Some Mistakes’ by Emma Discher, Tulane University

Part 3: ‘Fresh Ideas & Fresh Blood’ by Sami Edge, University of Oregon

Part 4: ‘The Way We Edit & Upload Stories’ by Ali Swenson

Part 5: ‘So You Want to Make a Tabloid Newspaper?’ by Claire Dodson, University of Tennessee

Part 6: ‘An Independent Student Newspaper?’ by Kyle Walker, University of Tulsa

Part 7: ‘How to Present Data in the Most Compelling Way’ by Nizia Alam, University of Texas at Tyler

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