Sex in Student Press Spotlight Again: This Time in India

From Kansas to Kerala, India, sex is stirring controversy within the college press.  As CMM previously reported, a Daily Kansan “sex issue” recently earned some naysaying and media rabble-rousing in greater Lawrence.  Now, a student magazine at a college in India is in the spotlight for a cover page deemed overly sexual.



As displayed above, the cover depicts the shadowed outlines of four children gazing at a poster of a nude couple engaging in some manner of sexual activity.  Magazine editors said the image symbolized the need for greater sexual awareness.  School officials and members of a government-backed students union are not amused.  According to the students union head:


The students have openly protested against such a magazine. They take it to their homes only after removing the cover page. Such a thing should not happen again.

Daily Kansan’s “Free for All”

An interesting example of new media use engendering reader dialogue: The Daily Kansan‘s “Free for All” feature on Facebook that allows users to comment, complain, philosophize, and shout-out on any individual, subject, or event they wish.  The statements appear on the paper’s Web site and come with the promise that they “might just appear in the next day’s paper.” 


Referred to by students as FFA, the Facebook app has more than 1,200 active users and a backlog of more than 650 pages on the Daily Kansan site.  One Kansas alum’s take: “The FFA has always been a place where one can say rude/stupid/clever/ingenious/racist/sexist/nice/mean things.”  Three recent examples: “Why is it that black people can make fun of white people, but if a white person says anything, it’s racist?”; “I need a fake i.d….and pronto”; and “I hate it when the people next to you leave for the weekend and don’t turn off their alarm. So there you are snuggled up in bed at 7 and you are rudely awakened but the alarm.”


Chronicle at Duke “Insulated” From Industry Spiral

A recent feature and separate editorial in The Chronicle at Duke University reaffirmed what The Chronicle of Higher Ed and CMM have previously written: The print versions of student newspapers are NOT in dire straits.


The main feature’s start: “The newspaper you hold in your hand has not changed dramatically since the 1970s. But the business side that makes The Chronicle‘s content possible has evolved to sustain Duke’s student newspaper over the years.  Despite the chill of economic downturn experienced by some commercial and college newspapers, The Chronicle remains relatively ‘insulated’ from both the shift away from physical papers to online content and drastic revenue decrease.


The Chronicle‘s basic argument: Ad revenue has dipped but not plummeted.  Student readers still want to pick up the print version before or after class (according to editors, the tabloid size helps).  And the paper has a “defined niche” audience that will not be unenrolling or losing tenure or alum status anytime soon. 


The separate editorial, headlined “Keep the Presses Hot,” also noted the significance of the paper’s role as “an institutional relic,” “a conduit for the student body to access relevant issues,” and a “written reflection of [Duke’s] identity.”


Although some newspapers have cut staff and distribution due to low profit margins, The Chronicle has been largely insulated from the economic tumult.

Student Editors Blog on Debate in Real Time for NY Times

Editors from 19 of the top college newspapers nationwide blogged in real time for The New York Times last night about the first presidential debate.  I’m currently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia without TV so I can personally attest their updates (literally from student centers and campus debate parties) were helpful to gain a sense of what was going on between McCain and Obama and to gauge initial student reactions.


Check out the full postGet background on the students involved.

Update: Resolution Reached in DN-UNL Dispute

The Associated Press is reporting that a compromise has been reached in the standoff between The Daily Nebraskan and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  As CMM previously posted, the conflict has played out in three parts: The DN formed a new special projects desk this semester.  Staffers on the new desk made requests for university documents that UNL administrators felt were unreasonable.  In turn, UNL severely limited the paper’s access to top school officials for all stories.



However, an agreement fixing the mess has apparently been worked out through e-mails between the DN editor-in-chief and the university chancellor.  Basic details available: UNL administrators will once again be free to speak to reporters and in the future DN staffers will speak with admins. before filing records requests.

Rider Radio, TV on “Internationalization Plan”

Radio programs in German and Chinese.  A television program “highlighting news, politics, concerts, art and movies” in Spanish.  International is the buzzword in the air (and possibly soon on air) at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.


Rider professor Hernan Fontanet is building on the success of a Spanish-language program broadcast on university radio last spring with a larger push for students to simultaneously gain broadcast j-experience and strengthen their foreign tongue and ties.  According to Fontanet: 


“The internationalization plan is becoming real with three radio shows in three different languages and a television show entirely in Spanish.  It promotes an international-friendly environment and introduces new languages in various aspects of everyday life. People will be exposed to new dialects and listen to music from Germany and from China.”

Broadcast Journalism Getting a Boost at TCU

Plans are in place for a major renovation and expansion of the building housing the broadcast journalism program within the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University.  The two main additions: a converged newsroom and a new television studio.


Moudy Building South will undergo a face lift as early as March 2009. John Tisdale, interim director of the journalism school, said the television studio and the

A graphic of the future broadcast journalism hub at TCU. Construction may begin early next year.

Backlash at Cornell over “The Angry Minority”

Critics of The Cornell Review, an independent conservative student newspaper at Cornell University, argued last week that the publication should drop ‘Cornell’ from its name.


The focal point of their concerns, and the related Student Assembly resolution they proposed for the name change: a Review article headlined “What to Expect: The Angry Minority” that described minority students as bitter about the “brutal oppression from ‘whitey'” and only enrolled at the university through affirmative action and minority scholarships.



One Cornellian, the president of the school’s Minority Business Student Association, said: “As a student here at Cornell, I find this article extremely offensive, ignorant and completely inconsistent to Cornell’s values … I can’t believe a Cornell publication has the audacity to write articles full of hate. It’s an embarrassment for our community.  This is not an issue of freedom of speech; this is an issue of respect for Cornell’s brand and for students at Cornell.”


In response, an article in the Review‘s current issue decries the furor as one borne of misinterpretation, noting “Angry Minority” (no longer available for viewing on the Review Web site) and another controversial article in the issue under attack were reprints (and no controversy greeted either in their original runs):


It’s another beautiful autumn in Ithaca, and as the freshman class of 2012 begins its voyage, business as usual continues in this fair city. Frenzied studying, plummeting temperatures, and of course assaults on the conservative minority on campus. Irked by The Cornell Review’s orientation issue, campus leftists have conjured groundless accusations of racism in an attempt to squelch dialogue with ad hominem attacks and falsehoods. . . . Let one thing be made clear from the start – The Cornell Review does not and has never subscribed to racist ideologies. . . . The campus media has taken this opportunity to paint this paper as nasty, intolerant, and a dozen other names. That’s the thing about us Republicans – we are Evil Incarnate, an amalgamation of Hitler, Satan, and Cthulhu; naturally any accusation made against us is true. No need to actually stoop to reading the Review to make sure your paper is factually accurate.

Echo Especially Popular or Target of Thieves?

More than 1,300 copies of The Echo student newspaper at the University of Central Arkansas went missing Wednesday.  The publication’s adviser has reported them stolen.


A UCA professor’s take: “When I came in on Wednesday morning at 7:45 the rack was full. I made a mental note to grab a paper on my way to lunch, but when I left at 1 p.m., the rack was empty.  I thought that was unusual because it was the first time all the papers had been taken by that time of day; however, I have no idea if the papers in that location were stolen or just popular that day.”

Frat guys, alcohol, firecrackers, football, journalism ethics

A fraternity event.  Alcohol.  Firecrackers.  A football victory.  It’s a common combustible mix at or near college campuses nationwide that turned especially raucous and then arresting this past weekend at Vanderbilt University.  Specifically, 54 students attending a Sigma Chi international frat event near Vandy’s campus were taken into custody by police early Sunday morning for disorderly conduct and underage drinking.


As the excellent aggregator College Rag first reported, the outing and arrests became a student journalism matter two days later when The Vanderbilt Hustler ran a related story and the photo below, a collage of the students’ mug shots.


Sigma Chi Mugshots


Controversy has ensued, with some students and non-students criticizing the mug shot decision as over the top, possibly painting an unfairly criminal portrait of students who simply got a little rowdy.  In response, a Hustler editor noted:


Many are outraged because of a perception that the mug shots were printed to humiliate the students involved. This is simply not true. . . . After the story came to our knowledge . . . The Hustler contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office . . . Polk County Clerk of Courts Connie Clark “said her office has processed other large groups on similar charges, but this seems to be a record number of arrests from one group.”  Clearly, an important aspect of the story was the large number of young men that were arrested at a single time. The photo collage captured this aspect.

Shout-out from CICM

Many thanks to The Center for Innovation in College Media (CICM) for mentioning CMM in a recent blog post!  Bryan Murley, the center’s director of innovation and a true leader of college media 2.0, wrote:


Dan’s perspective is a bit different from the recently launched College Rag. So far, he’s produced longer-than-average blog posts about controversies in collegemediatopia (like the flair-up at the University of Nebraska between the student press and the administration), along with a few interviews – all from a post in Singapore! 


In general, CICM is *the* central hub of new (media) thinking for college journalism.  Be sure to check out the site and blog ASAP.


Student Journalist Spotlight: Paras Bhayani, Harvard Crimson

Paras Bhayani, managing editor, The Harvard Crimson


Twenty-three hours.


Riding the Amtrak train between Chicago and Boston takes 23 hours each way. It’s a trip Paras Bhayani knows well. The Chicago native and Harvard University senior has refused to fly back-and-forth between Chi-town and Beantown for the past two years. Why? “Trains can save the world,” he wrote last December. “That may sound a bit hyperbolic, but it’s true. Traveling by train—instead of plane or car—reduces carbon emissions, weans the nation from oil, and revitalizes dying communities. “


Paras Bhayani is the current managing editor of The Harvard Crimson.


The train-tripper and world-saver is also a student journalist who matters, earning a CMM spotlight specifically for his current role as The Harvard Crimson managing editor, making him second-in-command of a 200-student staff putting out one of the top student newspapers in the world. Below are some thoughts he shared with CMM recently about his work, the role of the Crimson, and the current state of journalism:


Write a six-word memoir of your Crimson experience so far.


Trying, but with an enormous upside



To all the campus newspaper and j-student haters out there: Why does The Harvard Crimson matter?


We matter because we are the only check on the Harvard administration. The University’s policies are extraordinarily influential, but administrators also like to formulate policy without oversight or sunlight. As editors, we do see a great deal of mismanagement or skewed priorities . . . and it’s our job to bring to light the voices–students, faculty, or city residents–that the administration would rather not hear from. Our non-news content sections, notably our sports, arts section, and magazine, are significantly more student-oriented and fun to read, but our vital oversight role is truly what makes The Crimson matter.



What is the coolest part about being Crimson ME?


Knowing a great deal about Harvard and being able to immediately shine a spotlight when you hear a story that needs to be told.



What is one thing people don’t understand about the job?


Even though I am nominally “in charge” of a large news gathering staff, the staff is composed entirely of volunteers. As a result, all change at The Crimson, be it to our internal management or to our coverage, requires either consensus or a near-consensus combined with an inclusive process.



Funny newsroom moment.


When Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers and an editor of The Crimson during the 1950s, quietly walked into the newsroom during Commencement 2007. We were stuffing newspapers while blasting “Baby Got Back” perhaps a bit too loudly.


Check out the full interview here

Update: Quinnipiac Press Mess

September 24- It now even has a name: “The Quinnipiac Student Journalism Showdown.”


A posting yesterday on “The Paper Trail” blog for U.S. News & World Report under that headline provides a nice summary of the prolonged, increasingly-nasty free press fight at Quinnipiac University that CMM has previously written about.


On a side note, there is still currently an active listing on for an open tenure-track journalism faculty position at QU.  Let’s be honest, barring hometown ties, what j-professional or j-academic would possibly want to put themselves anywhere near this press mess? 


“Punished for Doing Our Job”

September 23- UNL administrators are suddenly MIA in the DN. 


In a recent staff editorial, Daily Nebraskan editors wrote that reporters’ requests for various public documents from University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials have prompted a far-reaching administrative silence.  “Let’s just say our administration wasn’t too happy with us asking for documents, and soon some of the most important voices on campus received an e-mail from [the] associate to the chancellor, telling them that [the chancellor] said to not answer any questions or look into any inquiries or requests for documents from journalists working at the Daily Nebraskan. . . . [I]t feels as though we’re being punished for doing our job.  No longer are we allowed to freely interview the reliable, authoritative and informative sources we’re used to in order to bring our readers the most in-depth and unbiased stories we can. “



The editorial also touched upon the administration’s unfair treatment of the DN as compared to the local professional press: “We also do not believe that the administration should be treating the Daily Nebraskan any differently than other publications. The Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World-Herald would never face this treatment. We know that for a fact. We’ve spoken with people at those papers. They don’t have to go through what we’re going through right now. Even though we’re students, we still deserve the same respect as other journalists who are doing the same job we are. We’re still the working press. . . . All in all, we want administrators to talk to us, not run away. Our ears are always open, and we look forward to the return of their voices in our paper.”

Time in the newsroom, time doing homework, time to sleep

September 23- What’s the toughest part about being a student journalist?  According to The Daily Campus EIC at Southern Methodist University, it’s balancing “time spent in the newsroom, time spent doing homework and time to sleep.”  Check out the related “Letter from the Editor.” 


That’s *So* Random Story Award: The Columbia Missourian

September 23- Kim Sorensen admits she isn’t much of a people person.  The 20-year-old Missourian instead likes to spend time with animals, including operating a dog grooming business called The Hair Wrangler.


Student journalist Samantha Clemens recently captured her story with words, Soundslide stills, and Sorensen’s own narration for the Columbia Missourian.  It’s a terrific piece of journalism and the recipient of the first CMM “That’s So Random Story Award,” an occasional honor bestowed upon student media coverage of unconventional trends, individuals, or issues.  Check it out.


A New Media-Oriented News Source in an Already Oversaturated Campus

September 23- An established college student blogger and podcaster with a passion for social media recently shared the secrets to his success with his new media start-up.  College of William & Mary undergrad Andy DeSoto has been running “The William and Mary Powwow” podcast (focused on “news, entertainment, and college life”) for roughly a year.    
The picture/metaphor DeSoto employs to describe his attempts "to fit a new media-oriented news source into an already oversaturated campus."

The picture/metaphor DeSoto employs to describe his attempts "to fit a new media-oriented news source into an already oversaturated campus."


DeSoto’s advice: 1) With new media ventures, trust needs to be established in respect to both content and “the technology underlying the content.”; 2) The key is filling a niche that the “heritage media networks” (such as college newspapers) are not filling.  “Choosing a vehicle of delivery is . . . a critical decision,” DeSoto writes.  “I opted for a podcast, personally, because of the low barrier to entry, novelty of the medium, and scarcity of other mainstream audio productions on campus.”; And 3) Take care when planning content.  The medium is NOT the message.

It even includes a clip from “The Office”!

September 22- Another “Fast and the Furious” sequel. A New Kids on the Block reunion tour. A gray-haired journo telling j-students that the industry is changing and its future is in their hands. Some things are simply unavoidable.


New Columbia University j-school dean Bill Grueskin (a former Wall Street Journal editor) recently gave the latest state of the change address to incoming CU students. It’s about what you would expect, but with some humorous asides. He even throws in a clip about Wikipedia from NBC’s “The Office”!


All Atwitter Over Twitter

September 20- The White House Situation Room.  An operating room.  John Q. Public’s bedroom or private study.  There are certain locations from within which it would be impolite, unethical or downright unpatriotic to report without permission, especially in real time.


The masthead of Taylor's personal Web log.

The masthead of Taylor's personal Web log.


What about a college class?  Or more specifically, what about a college journalism class?  Or even more specifically, what about a college journalism class focused on reporting for the new media generation?


A related debate has surfaced among old and new media journalists, j-students, and j-academics after an NYU undergraduate enrolled in a “Reporting for Gen Y” course wrote a bitchslap of a blog that criticized the professor, the class, and the university as digitally and journalistically behind the times.  The post, and the Twitter microblogging upon which it was based, stirred attention for their criticisms but also for the manner in which they delivered them: quoting the professor’s comments in class in real-time and including a photo of the classroom snapped during a class break.


The blog post’s title: “Old Thinking Permeates Major Journalism School.”  The student, Alana Taylor, wrote in the post, which was run on the PBS blog “MediaShift”: “I don’t expect her [the course’s professor] to be an expert on the world of social media, but for some reason I am unsettled at the thought of having a teacher who is teaching me about the culture of my generation. . . . I am convinced that I am taking the only old-but-new-but-still-old media class in the country. At this point I may not learn too much I don’t already know about my generation and where it’s taking journalism. But one thing’s for sure — I’m certainly going to gain some insight into what exactly they mean by generation gap.”


A student-teacher conference ensued, followed by (as you can imagine) an awkward class discussion.  The result was a new course policy: No blogging, Twittering, texting or other live reporting while in class.


The policy begs the question: Should microblogging in class really be banned?  And should college courses just more generally be off-limits for media reports?


According to NYU’s journalism institute director: “Given the new means of communication and how instantaneous they are, it might be a good subject for a forum.  If you follow the Chronicle of Higher Education, you’ll see people come on and talk about IM’ing in class and texting in classes, and it’s distracting.  People aren’t excited about that in any circumstance. But on the other hand, we’re providing a total WiFi environment with computers in your face.”


My opinion: There is almost no corner of the world cut off from new media.  Now, a classroom’s public status certainly has limits.  It is not a place for the unenrolled to simply wander in, for example.  But there is no way you can tell students awash in texts, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and RateMyProfessor to suddenly stop using them.  It’s a policy that has failure written all over it.  First, what are the consequences?  A failing grade for the class?  Suspension from the university?  The media will have a field day, on the micro and macro level.  Also, what about enforcement?  How do you monitor such activity?  I envision profs with narrowed eyes watching for fast-moving thumbs beneath desks.  Instructors should concentrate on the big picture: Educating students.  There is no point in being all atwitter over blogs, texts, and Twitter.  They are not the enemy.  They are new media, and evermore frequent reporting outlets for Gen Y.

Misspelling Oprah’s Name is Minor…

September 19- The Hilltop student newspaper at Howard University in Washington D.C. is back, sporting a new couch and a fresh coat of paint in the newsroom; updated software on the staff computers; and a fresh batch of print editions weighing down newsstands across campus.



The latter is the paper’s principal achievement, coming five months after financial troubles left it unable to afford publication.  The Hilltop, the only daily student newspaper at an historically black college, has long been regarded as one of the nation’s best.  According to a Howard U. administrator: “Since its inception, the Hilltop has been part of something historic in nature.  I think Howard University has served as a beacon of hope for people of color, and so the Hilltop feels a heavy responsibility.”


The loss of its print presence last April was a low point in the newspaper’s nearly 85-year history, according to a recent Washington Post feature.  Its return this fall is a testament to an impassioned  readership (including alumni and faculty who chipped in with donations) and the power of the student press, making style and copy mistakes like a misspelling of Oprah Winfrey’s name in an early issue seem trivial by comparison. 


Kudos to Howard and The Hilltop.