Twitter Used by J-Students to Track Handicapped Spots

A class of j-students at the University of Minnesota Duluth recently tweeted from parking lots across the UMD campus.  Their aim, The Duluth News Tribune reports: Verifying how many handicapped spots were available in mid-morning on a typical weekday.

The Twitter report fleshed out a recent story in the student newspaper regarding complaints about a lack of free handicapped spaces near campus buildings.  “The assignment for students,” DNT noted, “was to team up and take laptops to each parking area of the campus at the same time, checking the 58 parking spots designated for drivers with physical handicaps and posting the status of each space immediately.”  What they found?  Only a few spots were free.

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Kudos to UMD j-prof John Hatcher for overseeing the project and let’s hope related follow-ups can force school officials to add even a few more spots!  (The school is apparently up to code but officials should think about the spirit of the law as well.)

UWIRE Round-Up of Student Newspaper Troubles

UWIRE provides a nice roundup of recent campus newspaper staff/print edition downsizing, providing briefs and links to full stories about cutbacks at a dozen student papers across the U.S.   As the intro reports: “All over the country, university newspapers are scaling back to accommodate flagging funds, from slashing staff to going online.”

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Great list (and CMM appreciates the public hat tip).  The funniest part was the subject line of the e-mail in which the list was included along with a number of other articles (part of a regular story digest sent by UWIRE): “College papers face downturn; Rampant herpes ruining pong?”  Campus media fallout and an unbridled STI epidemic- nothing like being a modern college student!

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Separately (and we in collegemediatopia hope it stays that way), here is an excellent, albeit bittersweet video on Vimeo documenting the final days of The Rocky Mountain News, which just ceased printing in Denver.  Will we all be watching similar vids for student papers one day?  (Here’s a related story about the local j-student reaction.)

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Final Edition

College Radio: Even Prison Inmates Are Tuning In!

Campus radio stations in the online age are keeping their anti-Top 40 attitudes even as they smartly adapt, according to a recent report in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

In greater Sioux Falls, the student stations are “are reaching beyond the confines of the college campus” via enhanced signal coverage, Webcasting, programs directed at minority groups (including Ethiopian and Spanish language broadcasts), and even the addition of shows hosted by outside community residents.  Wonderful stuff.  The result: Greater interaction with off-campus listeners, including local prison inmates (who apparently appreciate the hard metal music most).

Simultaneously, the stations still strive to deliver the underground, local, indie, and alternative music goods they have long made it their goal to get on the air.  And, in the most obvious sentiment of the stations’ long-term identities remaining intact: As the article notes, most students on the stations’ home campuses still do not know they exist.  :-)

25 Random Things About Modern College Media: Part 3

My contribution to the now way-too-popular “Random” list phenomenon continues below with Part 3 of “25 Random Things About Modern College Media.”  (Also see Part 1 and Part 2.)  As promised, today’s segment is all about the tough love, presenting some of the harsher truths about 21st-century collegemediatopia.  First up…

11) Student media online are still in a state of shovelware and disrepair.  Forget the biggie publications for a moment, with their Weberrific, tricked-out WordPress pages.  The truth: A majority of media outlets at smaller schools and many schools outside the states have Web sites that make my new media blood curdle.  They are amateur-ish, ill-designed, static, burdened with text, lacking images, and an absolute affront to link journalism.  Worse yet, some outlets have no Web presence at all or scant efforts, such as a site housing PDFs of past print issues.

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12) TWEET, TWeet, tweet…… The Twitter scene has flat-lined among student media overall after a wave of excitement months back when a bunch of outlets started accounts.  Only a few outlets use it for anything more than advertising their stories.  The question: Has it simply not caught on yet or has it been a bit over-hyped and is not really that necessary for student news outlets day to day?

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13) Is that a blog I see before me? Where are the blogs?  A recent Editor & Publisher piece predicted that journalism’s future will include the emergence of ‘beat blogging,’ or a reporter’s 24-7 coverage of a specific news area using all forms of media for presentation and essentially building a niche blog within his/her news outlet’s site.  This is NOT happening en masse in the land of college media as of yet.  While there are a few notable exceptions, I remain shocked, SHOCKED, at the lack of blogs among established SMOs (student media outlets).  Many j-students blog on their own, but it’s not being incorporated into the media outlets at which they work (again, certainly exceptions).  We are all praying to the micropayment Gods right now, but let’s be honest: Individual stories will not be what keep people coming back to our sites.  Bylines are no longer enough.  Readers want to see quality content delivered atop a personality that they relate to or enjoy (or even passionately hate).

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14) Most student publications still lack independence.  College media staffers of past generations fought for freedom and some earned it.  Their efforts remain iconic.  But liberty and justice for all student pubs have not been realized.  Collegemediatopia has come a long way, but far too many outlets are still beholden and at times smothered by their school sponsorship.  The recent MTSU mess is an example of why such a situation can be catastrophic: One day the admins decide pulling $100,000 from The Sidelines budget might be a good thing.  If the decision passes, boom, done, the print paper is gone.  And there’s basically nothing student staffers can do about it.

15) Student news media still suffer from SOS SASS (Same Old Stories, Semester After Semester, Syndrome).  As I have written before, 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 (although many times, not so much), but always with the same core issue or topic intact.  Why are we covering the same stories over and over and over?  I understand student readers graduate and staff turnover at SMOs is high and knowledge of past issues is not a priority, but something needs to be done to break out of writing yet again about the debate club’s regional tournament appearance or the annual sorority Easter egg hunt.  The problem is the scrapbook journalism mentality still pervading many SMOs.  We must refrain from writing so many stories about ‘official’ events simply because they happen and there are 11.5 people involved in them who will care to read a recap.  If there was ever a time for better between-the-lines, out-of-the-box reporting, it is now.

Stay tuned for Part 4 next week, when I promise I’ll be more optimistic!  :-)

Budget Cut May Sideline Print Edition of MTSU Paper

What does it say about the online journalism revolution that a majority of its younger members are not yet in any hurry to join it and often even fight against it?

An example: Middle Tennessee State University is proposing a $100,000 budget cut for The Sidelines student newspaper that would effectively kill the paper’s print edition, according to a report in The Daily News Journal. Student eds. at the paper and undergrads at MTSU say the consequences of an online-only shift at this point are clear.  A chance for a fresh start?  A wake-up call that the time for a full online push is now?  No, and no.  Instead, they see dark days- a loss of campus presence, less student readers and, in turn, a less informed student body.

Sidelines EIC: “Most of our readers pick up a paper on their way to class.  A lot of students aren’t going to read it anymore.”  One other snippet from the DNJ piece: “In interviews conducted on MTSU’s campus by The DNJ, most students said getting rid of the print edition of Sidelines would be a mistake.  ‘There would be a lot of issues students wouldn’t hear about,’ said Sean Mahoney, an electronic media major. ‘If Sidelines wasn’t around, the small number of students who are informed would become even smaller.'”

We are living in such an interesting time in j-history! We will tell our j-children about all this one day and they will stare at us like we are telling them there used to be nine planets. :-)  Think about it: Right at this moment, literally AT THIS MOMENT, we are caught between a wireless rock and a print news hard place.  Online-only is being talked about as inevitable for the field; its many wonders extolled and experimented with daily.  And yet, even the new media generation is still hesitant to give up its print-and-ink.

Are we simply scared to do things different?  Are we nervous that just because we lead readers won’t follow?  Are we still fighting the textural bias of seeing something we hold in our hands as more trustworthy and real and all-things-online as virtual and somewhat suspicious?  Or is it a high-tech-not-quite-up-to-the-changing-times question?  (Maybe we’re just in need of a few more killer online tools and apps and one or two Kindle updates to finally recognize print’s worthlessness?)  Or will print wow us all and stage a comeback?

Twitter Takes the States, Plurk Rules in Southeast Asia

An excellent recent post by CICM intern Lauren Rabaino reveals in pie chart form what those of us following student media’s attempts at Twitter have long known: Is quality tweeting taking place?  Not so much.

Two-thirds of the 50 college media Twitter accounts Rabaino looked at are either solely serving as tiny-url advertisers for stories on the outlets’ sites or saying nothing at all.  The Daily Tar Heel‘s recent tweeterific real-time coverage of a campus bomb scare at UNC is proof that Twitter *can* be harnessed as a news tool at the student level.  Is it happening in any sustained sense as of yet?  I am a follower of most of the accounts cited in the Rabaino breakdown and I can safely say the answer is a resounding no.

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Now here in Singapore, Twitter is about as relevant as a winter coat.  The student-age social media elite of S’pore and Southeast Asia instead are (at times quite rabid) aficionados of a competing microblogging service: Plurk, the “social journal for your life.” I recently dove into the Plurk-osphere and want to boldly declare: It is FAR superior to Twitter in a number of ways.

Chief among them: It cuts down on the overwhelming randomness of Twitter-mania, providing a clear-cut timeline to follow and the ability to respond to specific plurks, building a much stronger sense of community.  In this latter respect, student bloggers here use the service to hype their posts and create quite a following, in part because they are able to communicate directly to their friends/fans much more conveniently than via the big T.  Also, an honest confession: I find Plurk simply to be a lot more fun than its chief competwitter.

What do you think- Twitter or Plurk?

Journalism Students Report from Red Carpet at Oscars

As you watch the celebrified madness unfold during Oscar-mania be sure to seek out Faheem Ahmed and Anish Patel, a pair of Rice University seniors who won a contest enabling them to interview celebs and report from their very own spot on the red carpet.

For his part, Feheem is especially angling for quick chats with “Slumdog” director Danny Boyle and “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan.  His words: “It’s important to be personable, be aggressive, because I’m sure there are going to be so many journalists clamoring and were just two college kids from mtvU.  We can’t let people push us around. And I think, finally, we’ve go to represent the college demographic, so we’re going to ask questions that college kids would like to hear these actors talk about, and directors.”

Chicago St. Censorship: School Says No to Current Tempo

This just in: The censorship saga at Chicago State University continues, in part thanks to student staffers who won’t back down and school administrators who need to grow up.

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There has been a battle brewing for some time now amid allegations of editorial and financial censorship against The Tempo student newspaper.  The latest, according to a Student Press Law Center report: The newly-installed adviser of Tempo is refusing to allow the current issue of the paper to be published.  Apparently, it’s because he does not think there is enough original, quality content.  Critics see it as just one more attempt to stop the paper from running pieces negative of the school administration.

The paper’s student editor wrote in an e-mail to CSU admins: “This week’s decision to stop the presses is particularly disheartening.  It not only further depresses the morale of a vastly depleted staff who has felt like an orphaned child by virtue of the administration’s inattentiveness to its needs, but it is also evidence of a cavalier attitude towards the rights and expectations of students.”

My take: The new adviser should be fired, rehired, and then fired again.  Then, and only then, will he possibly know what it’s like to put together a paper only to have it pulled out from under you at the last second due to forces outside your control.  Student media quality varies, issue by issue, staff by staff, semester by semester.  It is the nature of the beast.  Unless there is truly material that is libelous or downright sophomoric, he needs to ensure the paper sticks to its deadlines, face the fact that he screwed up by not looking at the material prior to final page proofs, and respect that readers will lose trust in a product that is not presented to them on the day that they expect it.

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And if the content is truly subpar, so be it.  You’ll get it better next time.  An adviser’s greatest gift: allowing j-students to fail and to learn from their mistakes.

Journalism is Dying . . . Except in School!

Two items of interest came my way yesterday via RSS.  First, in England, applications from students aspiring to obtain journalism degrees from the country’s universities are up 24 percent (?!?!) from last year.

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As the Press Gazette report notes, this astounding rise comes amid an industry tumble in which more than 1,000 j-jobs have been lost throughout the UK since last summer.  The piece is headlined simply: “Journalism degree applications up 24% despite job cuts.”  My suggestion for a sub-hed: “The definition of irony.”

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Second, earlier this week, the University of North Texas officially approved a reorganization of its journalism department into a full school.  Not sure if this means anything in respect to infrastructure, but it’s certainly a symbol of the university’s confidence in journalism’s future.

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These are separate events, but certainly both point to a similar professional-academic disconnect, something I’ve written about before.  What do you think?  Is it still practical to major in journalism?  Will it eventually become a more theoretical concentration, like philosophy?  What does it mean that more students than ever want to learn about a field in which less people than ever are making a living?

International Journalism Students: Is U.S. Uni the Answer?

Journalism recruiter extraordinaire Joe Grimm recently tackled a question on his Poynter advice column from an international j-student curious about the proper path to take to break into American journalism.  Grimm’s prognosis: Employers are more interested in an aspiring journo’s professional experience than the reputation of the j-school from which they earn their degree.

Grimm also mentions: “I have heard from many international students who have gone to great expense and trouble to study in the United States, only to find out later how difficult it can be to find a sponsoring employer who will help them get through the work visa ordeal. Many have had to return to their home countries, heartbroken over their careers.”

My add-on: Why return heartbroken?  If America is the sole goal, certainly sadness can ensue, but from my vantage point here in Southeast Asia, a U.S. j-education can be a very sexy leg-up on the locally-trained competition when attempting to land a job in one’s home country.  So strive for an American j-job, but don’t be remiss about returning home as a conquering j-hero.

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On a side-note, the questioner’s end goal is a point of continued intrigue for me.  The guy/gal wanted to know how to break into the newspaper biz, something we all know is dying.  It is a sentiment that I’ve read/heard regarding a number of current j-students.  Do they not know any better?  Do they not care?  Are they in denial about the future?  Or maybe, just maybe, do they know something the doomsayers don’t?

“Campus Publications Face Cash Crunch” at Princeton

Who or what is truly to blame for the economic toil and trouble in collegemediatopia?

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A Daily Princetonian report notes that a number of student-run publications at the university are in various states of financial duress, the editor of one noting that the staff was “scrambling to accrue ad revenue.”  The four main reasons cited by the article:

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1) Economic collapse

2) Advertising woes affecting print publications worldwide

3) Small audience size of many student media

4) Mismanagement of funds/lack of an advertising push by the student editorial or marketing teams

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I personally think the last item in the list gets far too little attention as being a root cause of the current “cash crunch.”   Obviously the first two have exacerbated the problem, and the third is a given.  But for every major student media outlet sporting a general manager and a hundred-thousand-dollar budget, there are tens of thousands of smaller outlets run by students with nary an interest or iota of experience in advertising or marketing.  (I know this firsthand, because I served as the editor of one such student outlet during my undergrad days.)

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As the well-written Princetonian piece states:

Many campus publications . . . have a limited audience and are poorly run, scaring off potential donors from contributing and businesses from placing advertisements. The economic downturn, he explained, has only revealed the bad habits of those who run the publications.  “Usually, it’s poor management on the part of the publication staff,” [said one Princeton student media head].  “By and large, they don’t know how to go about getting the most quality for the least cost and don’t operate with cutting costs in mind.”

Bomb Threat Does Not Stop Daily Tar Heel from Publishing!

Do not mess with The Daily Tar Heel!  Student staffers at the venerable University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus newspaper were dealing with the usual stresses of a looming print deadline this past Sunday night.  And then the bomb dropped.  Or at least the threat of one, which forced the evacuation of a few UNC campus buildings, including the student union that houses the DTH newsroom.

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Instead of packing it in, the staff continued putting together the paper and being student journalists extraordinaire, on the street.  As DTH top ed. Allison Nichols told The News &  Observer in a very entertaining interview:

We assembled across the street from our office on Raleigh Road. . . . Literally under a street light.  We had a few computers and we were posting breaking news to our website. We were having folks call any spokesmen or all the various police units and so forth to figure out what was going on. We had people walking around in pairs trying to figure out where, exactly, the barriers were where you could and couldn’t go.

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They eventually put the print paper to bed at 5 a.m., four and a half hours after the normal 12:30 a.m. deadline.  In the interim, they updated the campus and outside world with real-time eyewitness Tweets and a story on the DTH Web site that received roughly 50 reader comments that night.  (Here’s a later version of the story basically summing everything up and a blog recount of what went down.)

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A true example of mobile journalism, in action.  In the long-term, I see an award or two looming.  In the short term, I see naps, lots of naps, for the staff.  Both will be well-deserved.

25 Random Things About Modern College Media: Part 2

Last week, I kicked off my list of “25 Random Things About Modern College Media,” putting a professional twist on the Facebook-centric personal list phenomenon that continues to give us insights into parts of people’s lives I had no idea I ever wanted to know about.  My dip into collegemediatopia randomness continues below, with Part 2:

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6) College media’s financial future is more sound (or just less bleak?) than their professional counterparts.  As I first wrote back in October (and again in November and again…), the once-indomitable economic spirit of collegemediatopia has cracked as of late under the heavy twin burdens of a crazy-huge recession and a print news meltdown.  But student pubs’ financial states are not being underwritten by the word hopelessness like the professional press (at least in print).  Why?  The $$$ bottom line is uber-low or non-existent at most college media outlets.  Does that ensure student-media-as-we-know-it’s survival long-term?  Absolutely not.  Does that mean they will outlast most professional press?  Absolutely.

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7) Stop posing, college yearbooks as we know it are outAs I have previously written, in the age of Facebook and cell phone cameras, traditional yearbooks are like TV antennas and Blockbuster Video: Cute for their quaintness but otherwise entirely outdated. And let’s be honest, they also tend to cost too darn much.

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8 ) And so are Fridays.  It’s long been the most hated school day of the week among even the most ambitious collegians, and yet the daily student papers have long churned out all the news considered a Friday fit.  Cue economic collapse.  Now top eds. at a number of papers are rethinking their Friday schemes and leaving their papers in bed.

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9) The blogosphere is abuzz with news and views in some way connected to collegemediatopia.  Along with CMM, there is CICM, College Rag, CMA’s “Blog Central“, U.S. News & World Report‘s “Paper Trail,” and the discussion happening over at CoPress, among others.  That’s not even counting the many, many, many individual j-student, j-prof, and j-school blogs.  I think it’s safe to say there has never been so much public talk about college media and the men and women who love them.

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10) Along with buzz, there is unparalleled support for student media.  In the states alone, there is the Student Press Law Center, College Media Advisers, Associated Collegiate Press, Intercollegiate Online News Network, UWire, and much, much more.  They are presenting j-students’ work, training them, connecting them with mentors and peers, and fighting for their rights to publish and present stories that occasionally piss off those in power behind the college gates.

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Any suggestions for items to add to the list???  Stay tuned for Part 3: The Harsh Truths.

Northern Star Defines NIU One Year After Campus Shooting

Wonderful work by The Northern Star at Northern Illinois University.  The paper provides a plethora of coverage online and in print focused on the school one year after the campus shooting that killed six and injured 18.  The Web site currently features a special homepage, under the heading “NIU Defined,” devoted to anniversary coverage (not sure how long it will be up).  Click on the screen shot below, showing part of the front page of the commemorative print edition, to access the zip file of the full issue.

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Northern Star

Student Newspaper Spoof Advertisement Honors Killers, Causes Controversy

A spoof advertisement in The Sanctuary, a student newspaper heavy on the satire at the University of Birmingham in the UK, has caused a public stir and spurred a lawsuit, according to numerous reports.  The full-page ad “honors” murderers by offering “designer china emblazoned with images” of the country’s most notorious killers.

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According to the Birmingham Post: “The student newspaper invited its readers to celebrate ‘the plucky, mischievous Brits who did gratuitous violence best’ and included a bad taste poem in their honour.”  The ad’s kicker: “Just as these notorious killers committed crimes you’ll never forget, this set represents a once-in-a-lifetime investment you’ll never regret.”  (Best headline about the incident ran in the Telegraph: “Serial Killer Crockery Offered in ‘Advert.'”)

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This part of the ad honors Peter Sutcliffe, "The Yorkshire Ripper", who killed at least 13 women between 1975 and 1980.

This part of the ad honors Peter Sutcliffe, "The Yorkshire Ripper", who killed at least 13 women between 1975 and 1980.

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Reactions: Victims’ groups are outraged.  A spokeswoman for an org called Support After Murder and Manslaughter: “It is beyond belief that anybody can think it is acceptable to print something like this. It is incredibly offensive to bereaved families and glorifies violence and killing. The people who put this advert out probably intend it as a joke, but it is just sick.”

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The school is suing, not over the ad itself but the fact that the university crest was used without permission as part of it, something the paper has acknowledged.  Meanwhile, the top Sanctuary editor is not apologizing, called the ad a lampooning of the “sentimental tat” appearing in ad form in professional papers.

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Here’s a video of a student discussing The Sanctuary‘s debut issue:

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Sanctuary Critique

Collegiate Readership Program: Competition or Complement to Student Media?

The controversial Collegiate Readership Program recently debuted at the University of Arizona, causing concerns among the leadership of The Daily Wildcat, the school’s student newspaper.  The barebones gist: The UA students union is paying for a few thousand copies of USA Today and The Arizona Star to be available free to students across campus.  The Wildcat‘s worry: The increased on-campus competition for student readers might make already-antsy advertisers officially jump ship.

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It is a program that has been implemented at a number of other campuses nationwide, and one that poses an interesting college journalism dilemma.  The Wildcat covers campus news, the Star state news (at heart), and USA Today boasts national-ish appeal.  So are they competition for student readers’ eyeballs and time or complements?

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The guts of the Wildcat squeamishness, similar to that of other student newspaper eds, is two-fold: 1) Newspaper readership is not inevitable or long-lasting on a daily basis.  The casual student readers who in the past picked up the Wildcat because it was the only convenient, free game in town might now simply opt for a Star or USA Today instead.  2) Perception is reality, with advertisers *believing* the added outside news presence will lead #1 to happen, causing them to ask for lower rates or advertise in the Star instead (regardless of whether any readership decline actually occurs).

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Then, there’s the curveball: The Wildcat operates completely independent of the uni, even paying rent for its on-campus media offices.  And yet now the school is in effect ‘funding’ outside media (at least its distribution).  Is this the reality of true student press independence or a slight slap in the face on the part of the school?

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The director of student media at the University of Texas: “If the student newspaper has to exist only on what it can generate on advertising revenue, why should an outside professionally run newspaper with professional marketing and sales people be subsidized?” Director of Student Media at the University of Arizona: “The biggest issue that college newspapers have with the Collegiate Readership Program is that it uses Student Fee Money or university funds, to support the largest newspaper corporation in the United States while none of those funds go to the university paper.”

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What do you think?

Student Newspapers’ Newest Trend: TGI F-ed

Does Friday matter in collegemediatopia?

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In separate announcements both made Monday, The Washington Square News at NYU and The Daily Free Press at Boston University announced that they most likely or definitely will be cutting their Friday print editions.

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DFP Editor’s Note: “The economic downturn has affected everything from Wall Street to Main Street, so it was only a matter of time before it hit Beacon Street, and The Daily Free Press too began to feel the pinch.”  WSN Editor in Chief: “It’s very sad.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t emotionally trying. . . . Editors across the country are dealing with the same things that I am.”

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The announcements come after similar Friday goodbyes were sounded at The Daily Utah Chronicle, The Minnesota Daily; The Daily Orange at Syracuse University; and The Spartan Daily at San Jose State.

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In a recent post, I shared why I believe saying goodbye to the Friday edition might actually be the best thing to happen to student daily papers in years.  In part, it is because 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 Friday-less student press 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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What do you think?

“Student Media Voter Fraud?”

May the best campus blog win!  Or . . . not.  “Paper Trail” guru Allison Go is alleging that the fix is in with voting in the U.S. News & World ReportBest Alternative Media Outlet” contest.

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http://www.usnews.com/blog_dbimages/93/PaperTrail.jpg

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She calls out a pair of blogs, one at Middlebury College and one covering a single dorm at Yale University, for having suspiciously high voting totals.  For example, Middblog at Middlebury has “almost twice as many votes as it has students.”  A post on Middblog encourages readers: “[K]eep voting, but keep the hacking out of this, please!”

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The problem, of course, is the open, honor-system set-up of the contest, making results about as reliable as an online CNN reader poll.  As one commenter to Go’s post noted: “I can’t believe anyone decided to read each blog and pick which one they liked best rather than just blindly vote for the one at their school.”  To me, it’s not about the winner.  It’s just nice to see a few good student blogs earn some recognition!  Btw, my vote: The Daily Clog, a standout blog I’ve written about previously.

25 Random Things About Modern College Media: Part 1

Inspired by the Facebook phenomenon “25 Random Things About Me,” which I’ve now happily received from roughly two dozen friends and colleagues (Time reports more than 5 million such lists have been completed since the start of the month), I’ve drawn up my own “Random” list.  It’s not personal, but professional passion-based.  Below is part one of “25 Random Things About Modern College Media”:

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1) Students still read their campus newspapers, in print! In an era of online-overwhelmingness and stereotypes (and published evidence) about youth predilection for Internet news over the dead ink variety, student readership of print campus publications is almost astounding.  The motivation for such an old media activity varies.  I’ve asked past students of mine for their reasons.  A few of the most oft-repeated: The college paper is the most accessible news source to grab on campus.  It’s free.  It’s the most relevant to students’ lives.  And it’s the easiest to peruse (or at least quickly scan) while on campus (in class, the library, the coffeeshop, cafeteria, etc.).

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2) The alternative college media landscape is like the modern indy-movie sceneThey are both more pervasive, professional, and popular than ever.  The alt college press specifically now pops up in newsstands and Google searches worldwide, providing more alternatives than ever to that holiest-of-holy standby, the student newspaper.  A few examples of alt-outlets I’ve blogged about previously: NYU Local, Amherst Wire (UMASS), and The Student Newspaper (UN-L).  And I come across new ones every day!  The latest: The Trojan Times at Mount Olive College.

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3) College journalists are stars! Personal branding and exposure via online means (see the UWire 100) have elevated a lucky/ambitious few into a college media elite or cognoscenti category unlike anything collegemediatopia has ever seen.  (Literally, in my related historical research, the only batches of student journalists with similarly heightened and sustained national prominence were student sex columnists in the late ’90s/early 2000s and those who fought and gained independence for their student newspapers in the late 1960s/early 1970s).  A few of the biggies: Emily Kostic (the inventor of Journalism 3.0, if you haven’t heard), Greg Linch, Daniel Bachhuber, Jackie Hai, and Andrew Dunn (see College Rag).

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4) The college media talent pool is still deep.  Students are still excitedly signing up for j-schools and majoring in journalism in record numbers at colleges and unis worldwide.  As I asked in a previous post, “So Where’s the Beef with J-School Enrollment?“: “Why are students still enrolling en masse?  Is it their love of writing?  Their infatuation with the pop culture aura of the journalist-as-superhero?  Their loathing of other subjects like math and science?  Their idealistic belief that they will be one of the remaining few to merge the words newspaper and career together?  Or maybe their hope that new media’s worldwide (web) domination will soon lead to an explosion of related j-jobs?”

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5) Your mom reads college media, online.  In an interesting reverse of item number #1 in this “Random” list, CICM guru Bryan Murley reported recently that findings indicate that readership of campus newspaper Web sites is not generally student-centric.  Instead, it is individuals off-campus who have some connection to the affiliated schools who are checking things out online- alumni, donors, prospective students, and maybe even your mom.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 soon!

Dan Becomes a Journalism Ninja…

I recently laid out my thoughts on the present and future of journalism, mass communication, j-education, and new media as part of a new AEJMC Web feature “Discussing JMC with…” Three of my answers and the cool ninja icon included on the page are below:

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How do you define mass communication?

It is still, as it has always been, a conversation with the world. Yet, the one-to-many model is *so* 1990s. The new models: many-to-many or even one-to-some, with the possibility of many happening across it sometime later. The means for this communication are also changing. The Wikipedia entry for mass communication notes: “It is usually understood to relate to newspaper and magazine publishing, radio, television and film.” Judges’ ruling? Incomplete. Mass comm. can also now occur via a number of new media means, including a Facebook status update, a blog post, a Twitter tweet, a Flickr photo set, a YouTube video, a mass e-mail, and a wiki entry.

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If you could save one J&MC course from extinction, what would it be and why?

Feature writing or any form of narrative journalism. I believe feature writing is the only thing, the ONLY thing, that will save journalism from being gobbled alive and skinned to the core by the masses of bloggers and user-generated content. Why? Because it’s *not* the type of news we’re always used to reading and because it’s *not* so obsessed with the rush of getting information out at any cost that it forgets that great reporting, great journalism, at its heart, is about the story. How do we escape life, even for a moment, especially in our e-intrusive age? How do we step out of the grind and take a second to more deeply reflect on what it all means? Feature stories, the best ones, have the power of stopping time or at least slowing it down, of releasing us from that sausage grind of a day, and making us leave our bodies, float above ourselves and consider the life we are leading and the higher order of things and the bigger picture questions of our culture, our society, our world.

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What do you see for the future of journalism and mass communication?

I asked my journalism students in Singapore this question. Three of my favorite answers: Edward R. Murrow resurrected and reporting on CNN live/dead via hologram; microscopic video cameras implanted into our eyes so that all our waking moments have YouTube potential; and newspapers localized for every single person on earth. Truly, the only prediction that I feel comfortable making about J&MC’s future is that there will be one. The profession, the field of study, will survive, and the world will be better for it.

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To read the entire discussion, click here.