Student Journalist Spotlight: Georgia Perry, Indiana U.

Update: For those interested in checking out The Robin, Perry reports: “People can read some stories online at www.thebtownrobin.tumblr.com.  Or if they want print copies they can inquire about that through thebtownrobin@gmail.com and we’ll send them over and just ask for a donation of whatever they want to give.”

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Georgia Perry is making a satirical statement, in newspaper form.  Last year, Perry, 22, a senior at Indiana University, launched The Robin, a satirical newspaper that smells a bit like Onion with a local, Hoosier-specific mocking flavor.  The publication seems to be the apotheosis of all of Perry’s efforts at IU, including a double-major in journalism and comedy writing (with a political science concentration on the side); four years in a campus improvisational comedy group;  and a two-year stint as a columnist for The Indiana Daily Student.

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The self-made satirist and campus news entrepreneur is the latest j-student worthy of a CMM Student Journalist Spotlight.  Below, Perry shares  her thoughts on Robin‘s start, “Brothers and Sisters,” and clumps of hair lost forever within IU’s main library.

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Georgia Perry, founder, The Robin, Indiana University

Georgia Perry, founder, The Robin, Indiana University.

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Write a six-word memoir of your Robin experience so far.
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Only need three: Crazy, Sexy, Cool.

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To all the campus media haters out there: Why does The Robin matter?
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Cool it, haters. We’re just trying to make you laugh. Just chill out, OK? Really, I mean it. Send a donation why don’t you? And tape “Brothers and Sisters” on ABC for me? I’ve got plans tonight.
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What is the coolest part about starting your own satirical publication?
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Giving the people I know a place to get published is a great feeling. All the writers are really funny and have great, interesting ideas, and it’s really satisfying to know that I’ve provided them with a place to show it. Most people who know me would say that my contribution to their life is extremely negative, or that I bring them down, get them addicted to heroin in the bathroom at the roller rink, etc. So it’s nice to contribute something positive for a change.
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What is one story you’re especially proud to have run in Robin so far?
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We ran a story called “Extraordinary person to host big thing,” which was just overtly vague terminology about so and so hosting an event to benefit so and so for upwards of 700 words. There are too many actual stories like that out there, you know? And no one ever cares. I think it was different to do a story that essentially just made fun of journalism, and it turned out really well.
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Where do you fit in with other student media at IU? What do you hope is your contribution?
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When you think about all student media on campus as a whole, we’re definitely “the satire paper” or “that thing that’s like the Onion” or whatever. We’re easy to distinguish as the funny publication, and we’re the only thing like that on campus. I hope our contribution is that we surprise people and get them to laugh. And it’s satire, so I hope that we make them think a little. Most of our “news” stories have a point they’re trying to get across. But most importantly, I hope we give students something fun to do in class if they aren’t into crosswords.
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Memorable behind-the-scenes production moment.
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I may or may not have pulled out clumps of my own hair once or thrice while working on The Robin in IU’s main library. By that I mean, I absolutely did that.
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What is one question we should all be asking much more often about the current state or future of journalism?
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Are blogs the new black (and white and read all over)?
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You wake up in ten years. Where are you and what are you doing?
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Walk-up apartment. All I had for breakfast is a cup of coffee and two Excedrin. Complaining to whoever will listen that my cats aren’t cuddly enough.

Students Read Print, Non-Students Go Online: Go Figure!

In an interesting new post for MediaShift, Bryan Murley summarizes the bitter truthiness of the economic downturn for college newspapers.  At least for the biggies, the dailies, the pubs that actually have an advertising team and non-student staff with fancy titles like general manager, times are tougher than ever.

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The portion of the post that most intrigued me focused on the identity of visitors trolling student papers’ Web sites.  Who is reading student newspapers online? Apparently, it’s not students, at least according to the two sources cited.  First, the general manager of Syracuse’s Daily Orange: “Students read the print edition, not the online edition anyway.  Online is for parents, alumni, sports fans not in our distribution area for the most part, so they would not be reading the print edition.”

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Similarly, Andrew Sawyer, “executive vice president for media services at Alloy Media+Marketing, a company that sells national advertising in the college newspaper market”:  “Online college newspaper readership hasn’t really been proven to me that it is a college student.”

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Hmmmmm.  How does one prove he or she is a student (or non-student) reader of the sites?  There is no registration required for most (if any?).  As President Bartlet told Mrs. Landingham on “The West Wing”: “If you want to convince me of something, show me numbers!”  (And I mean that: Any eds. or researchers have actual data/memories of a related research presentation they once saw that might prove this?)

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The claim that there is a student-nonstudent divide online for student papers is startling, and one that if true should impact student pubs’ Web presence, one way or the other.  Either papers can push for a greater mix of online content and services that will draw in more students or they can accept that students still love the print version most and instead cater to the non-student demographic who apparently are the ones eating up the online offerings.  Add an alumni news section?  Features on parents of students?  A special, non-administration-approved guide to the school for prospective students and family?

“Moving the Classroom Into the Newsroom”

In its latest issue, American Journalism Review documents the first few years of an interesting arrangement between the University of Alabama and the Anniston Star, a newspaper covering a community about two hours from UA’s main campus.

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The basics: A small group of students enrolled in UA’s journalism master’s program spend a year in the Star newsroom, mixing coursework (some of it on the UA Tuscaloosa campus) with professional experience at a community daily while receiving a small stipend (basically on par with a graduate assistantship).  AJR says the Star is “the first newspaper to house a degree-offering master’s program in its newsroom.”

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Glorified internship?  In some ways, on first glance, it appears that way.  Slave labor for the newspaper?  Again, yes, I do think the financial advantages for the paper are fairly clear-cut and potentially undercutting to full-time (higher-paid) staff, a concern the AJR article mentions.

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While not touched upon by AJR, the arrangement also raises the eternal question: What is more valuable for j-students- coursework or practical experience?  The program description lists a few courses that students need to meander through (when you cut through the siders, it’s basically just research methods, comm theory, community journalism, and j-history) but it is undoubtedly a learn-by-doing approach.

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My take: I’m ambivalent.  I don’t worry so much about the slave labor argument.  It stinks for the regular staffers obviously.  (Will all full-timers simply be replaced by the cheaper students  at some point?)  But undergrads and grad students have long been paid less to do more- all part of the move up the ladder and paying dues.  I just wonder if the Star‘s obvious precedence in the class-work collaboration too greatly removes the academic elements.  I mean, is UA really anything more than a beard, a backdrop, in this experiment?  But hey, maybe these types of agreements (among a uni, a news outlet, and a private foundation) will be what saves journalism as we know it. 

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Otherwise as a college media advocate, I must state my objection to any arrangement that removes quality j-students from their campuses.  My argument: Produce award-winning, impacting reports that hit home, but do it at UA, not two hours away! :)

Same Old Stories, Semester after Semester

As part of my research into the Singaporean student press, I have been conducting long-form interviews with every current and former Singaporean college journalist who matters.  The sitdowns so far have taught me some interesting truths about journalism in Singapore certainly, but even more than that they have revealed that certain tenets of college journalism are shared worldwide.  One biggie: what I call the SOS SASS (same old stories, semester after semester syndrome).

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There are simply some stories that on a scroll through the archives of any student media outlet pop up again and again and again, sometimes with a fresh spin, but always with the same core issue or topic intact.  Some are universal and others are school-specific.  At Nanyang Technological University, which houses the lone college journalism program and the longest-running college student newspaper in Singapore, the SOS are about busing.  Specifically, they deal with the inefficient transportation system to and from and within the school.  The most recent issue of the NTU student newspaper voiced a spirited related complaint in an opinion piece.  During a recent interview with a former chief editor of the newspaper, I showed him the issue.  His first reaction upon seeing the article with the busing reference: “Well, the headline’s different, but we basically wrote the same thing five years ago.”

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Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying SOS SASS is necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, the college media audience (at least the core student one) is ever-changing.  Student press staffs are also always turning over as well.  And some issues deserve repeated reporting or editorializing, sort of like the incarcerated main character Andy in Shawshank Redemption writing his weekly letter for years  in order to secure funding for the prison library.  But within my research, I haven’t come across an instance in which SOS SASS has been the result of such an organized, long-term undertaking.  Instead, the same old stories tend to get written simply because j-students aren’t aware or don’t care that they have been written about in the past.

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What can we learn from our student press predecessors? What is the value of yellowed student newspaper issues or now-archived Web pages displaying past student media efforts?  A flip through these print-and-Web treasure troves can provide a history lesson about how and how much things have changed at your school and also, more importantly, in my opinion . . . what things have stayed the same.

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And so, along with ensuring all issues of a student press outlet are archived and available online or in the newsroom or campus library, I contend that all student staffs should consider mining those archives for story ideas, seeing what’s been covered and how it’s been covered.  The potential for present content is tremendous!  Timelines of important issues, more direct compare-contrasts, This Day in School History siders, and strengthened arguments galore.  For example, it’s one thing to complain about university busing at present.  It’s quite another to quote a mid-nineties article in the same student publication making the same plea for better campus-area public transport that apparently continued to fall on deaf ears.

“College Rag Wrap-Up”

I am back from a trip to Bali (where The Bali Times reports that Obama’s childhood friends in Indonesia always knew their young expat chum “Barry” had a “go global attitude“).

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My return to Singapore comes only one day after the launch of an interesting new feature from The Washington City Paper involving collegemediatopia: The College Rag Wrap-Up. In a brief intro at the start of the first post, City Paper describes the wrap-up as a weekly summary of “the most interesting stories from college newspapers” operating at schools in and around D.C.

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https://i2.wp.com/www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/files/2009/01/2598816622_048093aecb-300x199.jpg?resize=300%2C199

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The idea is sound. It’s a nice localization of The Paper Trail, one my favorite blogs, updated daily by a witty reporter at U.S. News & World Report. Paper Trail promises to “sift through thousands of student newspaper headlines every day to bring you the latest, most important, or just plain weirdest news from campuses across the country.”

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https://i0.wp.com/www.usnews.com/blog_dbimages/93/PaperTrail.jpg?resize=594%2C64

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At first glance, my suggestions for College Rag Wrap-Up:

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1) Include actual summaries of the stories! Give us context. Why should we care? Right now, it’s just a blah link listing.

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2) Talk about the journalism involved. What was especially fresh about the selected stories’ reporting, angling, or new media use?

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3) Think New Media! Why just a listing of college newspapers? A number of alt, indy, and Web 2.0 student press outlets are doing their thing in D.C. and beyond. If they’re generally trustworthy, highlight the news they’re presenting as well.

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4) Why weekly? Give people a reason to tune in more regularly. Instead of a link listing only the most rabid college news junkie will want to go through, summarize and link to a more palatable one or two stories a day.

Duke Chronicle Editors Push for Less Coursework for Top Eds.

Running a student newspaper, big or small, daily or weekly, is a full-time job.  It is a practical, hands-on educational experience that teaches a student just as much as (and usually more than) even the best of classes.  In an editorial published today, top editors at The Chronicle, the student daily at Duke University, are pushing for more recognition of their hard work and the educational benefits accrued from it.

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Through an interesting “underloading” policy, certain leaders of campus organizations at Duke are being allowed to lessen their coursework demands by having their leadership positions count for one-credit each over two semesters.  The goal is to give these students a bit more time to pursue their work, learn from doing, and in turn hopefully improve the university with their achievements.

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The top editor at The Chronicle is included among the student leaders who are eligible for what is basically a course reduction.  The newspaper’s leadership though wants more than two semesters of reduction.  The arguments: The top editor normally serves a year first as a higher-up of a specific department within the paper, a full-time job itself; current top editors are already “unofficially” reducing their coursework through easy electives such as phys. ed.; the university lacks a “true journalism program,” making the newspaper an incredibly important learning vehicle on par with coursework; and a university the size and caliber of Duke deserves a daily paper and in turn a staff with a bit more time to put it together.

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This dilemma is in the end unsolvable.  Why?  Because it represents the fascinating engima that is the college newspaper.  It is both the heartbeat of most elite campuses while at the same time technically relegated to a mere student activity or an independent side pursuit.  It is of course officially an outside endeavor, done in free time by students who are at university for another main reason (classes/graduating), yet often represents the very core of j-students’ passions and reasons for being.  The time and effort it takes to produce would stun almost anyone curious or courageous enough to spend even a week in a typical student newsroom.

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Does this time commitment, the quality of content, and the necessity of its existence on university campuses deserve greater recognition and respect from the hand that feeds it (with information) and that it at times bites?

College Sports, Student Journalism, and School Spirit

The campus press and the campus athletics program have long co-existed at the epicenter of student life at schools worldwide.  Think about it: What other two entities on a typical campus bring students together as passionately and as regularly, entertains them or informs them quite as well, and creates a collective college experience that goes beyond the classroom and dorm?

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One grabs eyeballs and another plants butts in seats.  Both provide students with shared things to talk about.  Both ignite passions and stir debates.  Both give students something to do other than studying or paying attention in class.  And one needs the other: Especially at larger schools, the sports section is the student newspaper’s bread-and-butter.  While at smaller schools, student press coverage may be the only attention teams can hope to generate.

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All this by way of an introduction to a rah-rah editorial that I randomly came across and really enjoyed.  The Signpost student newspaper at Weber State in Utah ran an editorial in mid-month about the paltry attendance at student sporting events and the need for greater undergrad support, not simply for athletes’ sake but for the spirit of the school itself.

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The editorial’s start especially caught my eye.  Although aimed at introducing its pro-athletics pitch, the words to me ring deeper as the very purpose of the student press in general: “Being the student newspaper of Weber State University, The Signpost has an obligation to help students get the most out of their experience on campus.”

Real Story of Inauguration: Live Streaming Video

An open letter to Mindy McAdams, purveyor of online journalism teaching tips and tools and creator of that wonderful timeline noting significant moments in online news reporting:

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Inauguration Day 2008 was considered historic even before it happened (literally, with CNN.com imploring Web surfers before the big day to be sure to “Watch History Unfold”).  In the end, however, from a media perspective, it wasn’t WHAT we watched (Obama’s oath stumble and so-so speech, Cheney’s wheelchair entrance, Aretha Franklin’s big hat, Yo-Yo Ma’s amazingness) but HOW many of us watched it that has etched a place into online news history.

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Three words: Live.  Streaming.  Video.  LSV has been battling for a greater stake in the media cosmos for a few years now.  With Obama’s inauguration, it has arrived.  As CNN reported yesterday, close to 8 million people watched the festivities online, making it “the single most-watched event in the history of live Web video”:

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With many workers stuck at their desks during the late-morning swearing-in of President Obama on Tuesday, more people than ever went online to watch live video of the historic inauguration.  News sites, including CNN.com, shattered records for viewers watching live streaming video online. And, sometimes for the first time, news sites carried video feeds on their front pages.

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I am officially one of these new LSV junkies.  I watched the whole shindig from Singapore at 1 a.m. via the live video on CNN.com.  Steady cameras, commercially-uninterrupted, nice sound quality, and only fits and starts of the loading hiccups that have always been the death of LSV in the past.  I also loved the CNN video sider showing your Facebook friends’ status updates (which were all variations of “Inauguration woo-hoo!”), in a way making me feel connected to the moment with those I know back in the States who were also watching (in their case while pretending to work).

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And so Professor McAdams, I humbly submit this suggestion: Time for an update to the online news timeline.

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All my best,

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Dan

College Journalism ICONN Makes Conference Debut

Online student journalism at the college level now has the beginnings of a nationwide advocate and Internet connection: ICONN, the Intercollegiate Online News Network.  It’s still definitely in beta form (its Web site is a Facebook group page), but this association “of individuals, academic programs and professional organizations dedicated [to] connecting student web journalists and campus news websites” seems to have an energy and early organizational strategy that should bode well for its next steps.

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https://i1.wp.com/profile.ak.facebook.com/object3/1947/53/n48807420867_7185.jpg?resize=274%2C128

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The first ICONN conference kicked off in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee last week.  During one talk, George Mason University j-prof Steve Klein said:

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I want to create a platform, not to compete with student media, but to be a platform on which students can publish work that adheres to the standards that we teach.  I just want to see more quality control and I think we can get that out of a program or classroom-generated platform.

Barack Obama, College Journalist

More than 25 years before acceding to the most powerful position in all the land, Barack Obama was a student journalist with an anti-war bent.  In “Breaking The War Mentality,” a March 1983 piece for The Sundial, a weekly magazine at Columbia University, Obama embeds his own obvious anti-war outlook into a profile of a pair of student groups whose names define their own positions: Arms Race Alternatives (ARA) and Students Against Militarism (SAM).

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At the start and close of the 1,800-word piece, written when he was 21, he argues:

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Most students do not have first hand knowledge of war.  Military violence has been a vicarious experience, channeled into our minds through television, film, and print. . . . But then, there are some things we shouldn’t have to live through in order to avoid the experience.

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https://i2.wp.com/cache.gawker.com/assets/images/2009/01/custom_1231882487042_barackstory2.jpeg?resize=494%2C346

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It is a fair piece of student journalism, well-written (a bit pretentious and wordy) and adaquately reported (although outwardly biased in tone and source selection).  I found it interesting mainly because it is truly an early published example of the detached reasonableness that has so come to define the man who is about to be president.  And so Obama’s path is obvious: college journalist —> White House. :)

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(This will be my last post before the big day, so happy inauguration and safe travels to all those crowding into D.C.!  Sixteen years ago, I was in the city with my grandmother for Clinton’s inauguration.  I remember frigid weather, not enough port-a-potties, and a citywide idealism unlike anything I’d experienced before firsthand.  I am sure there will be more of all those things come Tuesday.)

Journalism Students Take Civil Rights Route to Obama Inauguration

Ten j-students at San Jose State University are currently “on a roundabout journey from Memphis to Washington, D.C.,” stopping at a number of iconic sites in America’s civil rights journey.

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As The San Jose Mercury News reports, the trip came together in the immediate aftermath of the November presidential election.  SJSU journalism professor Michael Cheers decided to build upon students’ surge in political awareness and excitement to provide them with a firsthand history lesson they most likely won’t soon forget.

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Ten students were chosen.  Fundraisers including a car wash, bake sale, and letter-writing campaign were carried out, with the school picking up the rest of the tab.  Stops on the trip have included the Memphis motel in which Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed; the site of the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi; and the spot of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls in Alabama.  The students are keeping a blog about the experience, “44 Years to the 44th President,” and also uploading videos to CNN’s iReport (one of which was even aired on air).

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Watch the very powerful video below offering a “Behind the Scenes” glimpse at the students’ experience:

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CNN iReport———

Two other examples of j-students participating in the Inauguration frenzy:

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Grad students at the University of Miami are covering the festivities for The South Florida Times.

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On Monday, Southern Illinois University Carbondale j-students leave on a whirlwind bus tour to cover all-things-Obama

First University-Based Investigative Journalism Center

I consider this the first momentous day in collegemediatopia in 2009: Boston University just announced the launch of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR)The press release bills it as the “[n]ation’s first university-based, non-profit center to probe local/regional issues.”  It partners a who’s who of Boston-area media organizations with BU journalism faculty and the j-students in their stead.

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https://i1.wp.com/cdn.necn.com/shows/necirbu_logo-h100.jpg?resize=341%2C100

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Stock PR quote from BU’s College of Communications Dean:

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This comes at a critical moment in American journalism when investigative journalism has become a luxury rather than a necessity in too many newsrooms. Just as medical schools serve the dual purpose of training physicians while serving the health needs of patients, we believe that Boston University’s journalism program can train reporters while serving the community’s civic health.

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Check out a brief news report about NECIR here:

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NECIR News Report

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My first impression: Bravo.  I love the initiative and the student media empowerment.  Student journalists are more than capable of handling long-form journalism and investigative-style pieces.  With the right guidance, I have no doubt the stories BU j-students create in the near future will make a serious local and regional impact.

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The early news reports and PR statement leave it unclear exactly how the center will operate.  Will students be the primary reporters or  function more as assistants to the pros?  And how are the professional media outlets such as The Boston Globe, Boston.com, New England Cable News, and WBUR-FM involved exactly?  Will their staffs chip in to help when called upon or simply serve as the platforms to present students’ work?  And how do the journos at these outlets feel about all this, considering they might now be considered more dispensable than ever (compared to the cheaper student work edited upfront by the BU journalism faculty)?

University President’s Son Arrested on Pot Charge: How to Cover It?

The son of Indiana University President Michael McRobbie was arrested over the weekend for allegedly smoking up– marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges are pending.

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The Indiana Daily Student rightfully ran a short piece yesterday on the arrest and the incidents leading to it.  The article is brief and well-written, noting the connection to the IU prez, explaining the normal procedures and possible punishments, and including a response from an IU spokesman on behalf of the prez.  It’s an ethical judgment call certainly, considering its involvement with the school leader and a young guy who obviously only slightly screwed up, but the story (and related follow-ups) must be run.

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Reasons for running the story:

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  • McRobbie’s son is a freshman student at IU and was caught with marijuana in an IU dorm, making the story newsworthy in its own right regardless of the last name and DNA he shares with his father.  Of course, in general, this type of incident would  normally be explained in a brief or police log posting, but the son had to know what he was getting himself into.  By deciding to enroll at IU, he and hi family must accept that his connection to his father will be fodder for news pieces (and the reason for the piece to be news at all).

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  • He is 18 years old.  He’s a legal adult.  He screwed up.

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  • Related stories were picked up and run in other media, making a blackout within IDS unreasonable.

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  • The college press plays a watchdog role.  It will be interesting to see IDS’s follow-up reporting on what university disciplinary action and legal punishment the son receives, in part to ensure family connections don’t lead to favoritism.

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  • The story’s newsworthiness extends beyond the arrest.  For example, has the IU prez ever made strong statements or implemented notable anti-drug policies on campus?

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What do you think?

J-Students + Charter Bus = Obama Inauguration Trip

One hundred journalism students from Southern Illinois University Carbondale will soon be hopping a charter to spend a “crazy three days” covering all-things-Obama in Inauguration-happy D.C., according to an AP report.

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They’ll be filing content for The Daily Egyptian, the SIUC student newspaper, and The Southern Illinoisan and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  One hundred j-students + THE story of the moment: That’s A LOT of content!  It will be interesting to see what ends up in print and online.

Web Presence Not Just About Showing Up

On January 12th, the editor in chief of The Flyer News at the University of Dayton posted a response to a letter criticizing the paper’s editorial cartoonist for misrepresenting various individuals and aspects of the school.

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The EIC’s argument is well-written and well-reasoned and I applaud him for not shying away from a dialogue with impassioned readers.  The sigh I emitted when scanning the article was not directed at the content but its presentation, a decidedly Web-unfriendly style that I come across on the sites of way too many student news outlets.

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Everything we’ve been taught (and for us educators that we teach) related to the new media universe is link-link-link.  There’s even a new term floating around the blogosphere known as link journalism.  Yet, while the Flyer News article refers to the reader’s letter to which it is responding, some of the cartoons causing the reader’s concern, and even a separate e-mail response from a university administrator,  no links or Scribd documents are provided to give curious readers a chance to check things out for themselves.

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My goal here is NOT simply to single out the Flyer News.  (Again, as someone who’s followed this controversy a bit, I think the article content is sound and the decision behind-the-scenes to answer the reader’s letter was the right call.)  Instead, I simply want to point out that articles such as this need and deserve more care and thought about how they will appear online as well as in print. 

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To all student journalists and the educators and advisers who love them: We must get beyond the shovelware mentality!  Posting a basic copy-paste of our print news products online is no longer enough!  And we can only keep citing the small-staff-already-overworked-still-learning-the-tech-stuff-no-funding-for-quality-redesign-or-CMS excuse for so long.

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It’s a new media world in collegemediatopia.  Web presence requires a different presentation style.  It’s not just about showing up.

Dude, You Stole My Blog Post

In early January, I posted a blog item about a change at a little-known student news outlet, as reported by a little-known professional news outlet.  I’d come across the original news item a month before my posting, saving it for the winter break dead zone when not much is happening in collegemediatopia.

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Almost immediately after publishing the item, I came across a dead-on impersonation of my post on another blog.  It recounted the same small change at the same little-known student news outlet, citing the same little-known professional news outlet’s original story.  My blog posting was not mentioned.  I will bet the GDP of Singapore that the other blog’s creators simply saw my posting, considered the news relevant to their own blog, and decided to cut out the middleman (me) who presented them with their first glimpse of this information.  On bigger news, of course, I understand that it’s common for separate bloggers to come across the same news item independent of reading others’ blogs.  But there is simply no way these bloggers happened across this way-too-buried news item from this way-too-little-known professional news outlet almost one month after it first came across the aggregators and simply by fate right after I published something about it.  My first reaction: Dude, you stole my blog post!

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But on further reflection, I’ve wondered, is it really stealing?  After all, my post was based on someone else’s story (which I cited), and almost every opinion, reflection, and analysis spouted in the blogosphere was uttered first somewhere else.  But it seems wrong not to at least send a hyperlink shout-out to the originator of your own introduction to a particular piece of news (whether that originator is the true originator of the news to begin with or not).  As Bryan Murley writes in his “9 1/2 Blogging Tips” (which he mentions is inspired by someone else’s list):

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If you find something you like on the Internet, link to it. Comment intelligently on other blogs related to your topic. And don’t EVER take an idea without acknowledging where you found it. It’s called the hat tip (aka via, or thanks or inspired by).

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Of course, the ethical conundrum doesn’t necessarily stop there: How far should hat tips go?  On bigger news, a quick check of the daily blogs I consider required reading at times yields similar posts.   Should I cite every one?  The one I came across first?  The one whose views or information is most aligned to what I decide to offer?  The one of the highest quality?  And when does news become so big that it bypasses the hat tip, when it’s simply expected that everyone is writing about it or will soon be writing about it?

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The most lingering question for me: Do I have any right to be angered by bloggers not attributing their work to a posting of my own about something that was not my own to begin with?  My gut says yes, given that it was not a news item they would have come across any other way.  So to those someones, somewhere in the blogosphere: You owe me a hat tip.

An Innovative Internship: One Week Left to Apply!

Bryan Murley, director of the Center for Innovation in College Media, recently announced an internship opportunity with CICM. Part of the call is below.  Interested students should apply quickly.  The deadline is January 18th!

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Internship at CICM

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The pitch: How would you like to learn new media skills while having a positive impact on the college media environment? Join us for a semester of new media opportunity as the first intern for the Center for Innovation in College Media for Spring 2009.

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What you’ll do: Help maintain the Innovation in College Media weblog by producing relevant content that highlights what college media are doing in a changing media environment. The possibilities for editorial production are limited only by your imagination and energy. Some of the possibilities:

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* Podcast interviews with media movers and shakers.
* Reviews of college media online initiatives.
* Maps and databases of college media online sites.
* Live video streams of conferences and/or interviews.
* Round-ups of relevant new media writing.
* And more.

Why Saying Goodbye to Friday Edition Is A Good Thing

It was widely reported this past week that The Minnesota Daily at the University of Minnesota is dropping its regular Friday print edition to save money amid the economic and advertising downturns affecting student and professional newspapers.

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I don’t believe this is simply another sign that the student journalism apocalypse is upon us.  Saying goodbye to the Friday print edition is actually a good thing!  Two main reasons:

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1) In today’s uber-cluttered journalism landscape, the old media model of creating content to fit a designated time and space is out of sync with what modern news readers want.  We want to read news that MATTERS to us.  That means less can be more when it comes to creating a new media brand for your student news outlet.  The who-cares content that has far too long frequented newspaper pages simply because there is space to fill or another day’s issue to put out is a thing of the past.  The Daily now has more of an opportunity to fill their remaining print issues each week with only the stories that matter most to its readers, leaving the crappier content out of print, as it belongs.

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The Minnesota Daily———–

2) As The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, the loss of one day per week in print will lead to a push by the student paper to beef up its online presence.  It’s no secret that the print journalism universe has been slow to adapt to the new media cosmos that now controls it.  A loss of a day per week in print is just the type of push traditional journalism needs to snap out of its old media stasis and further jump into the new media fray.  The Daily now has more of a tangible reason than ever to reinvent the way they do things and how they present their final product.  Good luck!

Breaking News … About Third Eye Blind?!

A post yesterday on the blog “journajunkie” by College of Brockport journalism professor Marsha Ducey caught my eye.  She wrote in praise of the new media acumen of The Stylus, Brockport’s student newspaper, for working over the winter break (when no print editions are published) to send a breaking news e-mail alert to students and staff about a concert the band Third Eye Blind has scheduled on campus in the spring.

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Third Eye Blind Still Alive

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As she wrote, “These students realize that journalism is a 24-hour-a-day job, regardless of the medium, and that when they find out big news, they can’t wait for the print edition or even, in their case, for when they return to school.”

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I like the idealism in the sentiment, but I’m left wondering: Could this news *really* not wait?  I’ve been out of the states for close to six months now.  Has Third Eye Blind magically reemerged as an A-list (or even B-list) band in that time?  Update the newspaper Web site certainly.  But even at a smaller school like Brockport, is an announcement of a planned Third Eye Blind concert at Tuttle North Ice Arena in April truly worth clogging the in-boxes of every student and staff at the school?

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It reminds me of a research presentation I once attended while a doc student at Ohio University.  A candidate for a j-professor post was talking about his research into the use of breaking news e-mail alerts by CNN, at one point noting that he’d found it was an underused presentation option simply because CNN only sends out a few per month.  I think the research may have merit but I disagree with the premise vehemently: I think it’s the LACK of breaking news e-mail alerts that shows how effective they can be.  When I receive a breaking news e-mail alert, I want it to matter.  E-mails about the latest updates in Barack Obama’s Blackberry fight, Oprah’s weight gain or Amy Winehouse’s rehab makes me lose trust and then interest in what constitutes important breaking news.

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New media are only as effective as journalists’ decision-making on when (and when not) to use them.

J-students “instinctively know something . . . journalism will survive”

A host of quotes from j-profs and j-school department heads about what they tell their students, via an About.com: Journalism article, found via a St. Louis Post Dispatch report.  (My own thoughts follow in brackets.):

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Tony Chan, journalism professor at the University of Washington at Seattle, about print journalism: “I’m telling my students to find a new profession. Print, as we know it, is dead. Kaput.  Print is ‘Dead Man Walking.'” (A bit shortsighted and way too pessimistic. Print is evolving. It will certainly never be the same and the notion of it being on ‘print’ paper may change one day but telling interested students who could be at the heart of its reinvention to steer clear before they’ve even begun seems irresponsible!)

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Steven S. Duke, managing director for training and an associate professor within Medill at Northwestern: “We’re telling students they must be prepared to practice journalism across all platforms, and not to think of themselves as TV journalists, newspaper journalists or even Web journalists. Everybody has to be able to do a bit of everything.” (Very true. And yet it also still seems worthwhile to pick one area and achieve expertise. Well-rounded is certainly in but specialization is not dead by any means. We still need experts.)

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Andy Bechtel, assistant journalism professor at UNC: “No one is sure what the future holds, but it’s apparent in the growth of readership at news sites that people still want professionally produced news.  The problem is how to make that sustainable economically- and what that means for jobs for our graduates.” (A great point and one of the scariest factors in this whole death-of-news discussion. It seems to always be talked about as something that’s out of our control. We need to figure out how to make money with our own content, and fast!)

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Ann Cooper, a former NPR foreign correspondent now teaching at Columbia: “[J-students] instinctively know something that gets forgotten in anxiety-ridden newsrooms: however the next few years shake out, journalism will survive.”  (She said it right.)