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Archive for the 'College' Category

Kudos to Kent News Net coverage of riots

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I first saw the coverage Kent News Net had of the riots at Kent State this weekend on Twitter. My immediate reaction was, “come on guys.” Not about the newsroom, which was pumping out updates at rapid-fire pace, but about the future alumni of my alma mater. People already associate the school with police (err national guardsmen) in riot gear. But at least they were fighting for more than the right to party obnoxiously.

But I digress.

My next thought, when I clicked through and checked out the Web site, was, “wow, these kids (that would be the Stater/TV2/BSR reporters) are doing an AWESOME job covering this.” The page was — and still is — decked in videos and photo galleries.

The next morning after I noticed the story on my Twitter feed, my mom was telling me about how the web editor was quoted in the Akron Beacon Journal’s story about the coverage/riots:

The Kent Police Department would not make a statement Saturday evening, but student journalists at the Daily Kent Stater and KentNewsNet.com were out in full force, covering events on their Web site and updating the community regularly on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/kent360.).

Kristine Gill, editor of KentNewsNet.Com, said she and others went to investigate after seeing flames from their office at Franklin Hall.

”The flames were filling the street, like 15 feet high, and kids were throwing furniture on it and hanging from trees and screaming ‘KSU’ over and over again,” she said.

She said students told her the fire was started because police were harassing students on their front lawns and firing rubber bullets. Gill said some students showed her welts.

I know just last week, one of my former journalism professors said she was teaching those students about Twitter. Although I have said recently that even I am sick of hearing about Twitter these days, this is a great great great example of its power. Read back through their posts that night and you can feel the adrenaline rush. And then in the days since, you can see the rest of the story unfold with statements from the police chief and university president tweeted to the more than 300 followers. (I don’t know, but the KNN staffers might, how many people were following pre-riots?)

This is exactly what Twitter can be and should be used for in the news media. It’s not the only thing Twitter is good for, but with this coverage they have proven it’s a great tool and likely turned many new skeptics into converts.

I just wanted to take this space to highlight the awesome work of these student journalists.

Kent State’s case study in converged student media

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

One of my old professors Fred Endres, who teaches online journalism at Kent State, sent me a link to a package he produced about the student media operation today. More specifically, it’s about Kent State’s “marriage” of print and broadcast media into one newsroom and one Web site.

Sadly, as I’ve lamented before, I missed this convergence by a semester. I was part of the initial student media discussions, but graduated just as things were getting good. But I’ve been back to visit several times, and while it’s not nearly as homely and cozy to me as the former Daily Kent Stater digs were, it seemed pretty streamlined. And the technology was top-notch. I can’t even get Excel on my machine at work (OK, so actually after two years I’ve finally managed that … any day now), but these kids have everything from the Office suite to Final Cut Pro at their disposal.

I was never there to see the new combined news team react to breaking news, but I can imagine it was the same as it was for the Stater alone: A flurry of activity and a dash of figuring it out as you went along. These days, however, there’s an added discussion beyond who will write the story for online and then tomorrow’s paper. Who is going to shoot it, both still and video — perhaps at the same time — and ready the script for Black Squirrel Radio and TV2 to broadcast?

Anyway, check out the link Fred sent me to thekentnewsroom.com. It’s an interesting, and entertaining, look at how the marriage happened — and some of the stumbles along the way.

On developing the multi-media mindset:
Students from the newspaper staff talk more to students from the television station. And both talk to the small Web staff. On some days, those conversations lead to creative and productive cooperation and content. On other days, the students may say hello to each other. There is no consistency to the mindset yet. After three semesters in the newsroom, it’s pretty clear that the multimedia mindset is BE-set by some lingering turf issues, lack of trained bodies, too-busy schedules and indifference.

We sometimes wonder whether the move to real convergence can be led and maintained by busy students who spend a year or two in student media and then graduate or move on to other interests. It’s like having speed bumps in the newsroom. Energy spurt — screeching halt — progress — slow down. It’s frustrating for students, advisers and faculty. Consistency and continuity may be issues that confront every university attempting convergence where students truly run the newsroom, as they do at Kent State.

We do remain optimistic about developing the mindset, however. More importantly, so do the students.

An interesting case study for anyone considering a converged, collaborative or shared newsroom. (There’s even tips and lessons learned.) Or, since there’s so much debate on what journalism schools are or aren’t, should or shouldn’t, be teaching, anyone interested in seeing one school that is trying something new.

Connie Schultz: Young journalists will be the heart and soul of this industry

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

As I’ve mentioned before, Connie Schultz is one of my favorite journalists and one of my idols in this industry. For those who don’t know of her, Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She also happens to be a fellow Kent State alumna and former Daily Kent Stater editor — like me!

Poynter has an interesting interview with her posted online this week that’s worth reading, but mostly worth listening to. (Her responses are linked at the end of each bullet point.)

I’ve transcribed the last bit, which is her advice to young journalists entering this industry:

We’ve never had a time when we need you more.

I do think that young journalists will be the heart and soul of this industry and will keep it afloat. Because the ones who get into [this business], let’s face it, if we thought we were committed back when I got in, and you could make a living, compared to what they could do and make a living … in the business world, they could be making money in so many different ways.

If they come into [the] newspaper business, they really care about the business, and we need them. Because I think they really will be the ones who can poke the bear, who can say, but wait a minute we are the last stop in government corruption. If we aren’t watching them, nobody will. I just think that’s such a powerful … I believe that even more now having been married to a member of the United States Senate … I’m so aware of all that can go wrong if we aren’t paying attention.

Inexperienced student editors learn from each other, the job itself

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Often in student media, at least the ones I worked at during college, the staff is thrown into their position and told, basically, to build wings on the way down. Most active student media types I knew held a half-dozen or more positions within the span of four years of undergrad work. Often, you’re unprepared and have only your gut, your slightly more experienced peers who were in your shoes a semester or two ago, and your desire to do good journalism going for you. Oh, and then there’s the “every mistake you make will be printed for your entire campus to read and call you on” factor — so you better not screw up. Even though we adamantly professed and considered ourselves to be (and expected to be treated as) professional journalists, the truth is, we were inexperienced and clumsy at times.

Hilary Lehman is the managing editor for print at the University of Florida student paper, The Independent Alligator. She’s in the position I described above. And she’s smartly decided to chronicle her experience in a blog in hopes of sharing it with and learning from the other hundreds of college newspaper editors like herself.

Our student media director used to describe what we did as “publishing our homework.” Sometimes, we really were. After we submitted articles to the paper, reporters in some classes would submit them for the professor’s take on the work (often with a much more critical eye than our student editors). But unlike many majors, where the models they produced or papers they turned in were graded and returned without anyone else ever seeing them, we were also doing a job. A highly visible job. Though our “homework” was designed to teach us, it was also a real product that came with real responsibility. When our teammates didn’t hold up their end of an assignment, we didn’t just get a bad grade, we had a hole to fill in the paper. When someone slacked off or turned in a sloppy assignment, it might cost us a correction and some credibility.

Our newspaper switched jobs (well the staff turned over and most people switched jobs) once per semester. Every four months, you had to learn a new job. The benefit was you get to try your hand at a lot of different aspects of journalism. The drawback was you never truly mastered any.

I was the managing editor (no. 2 in charge) of the Kent Stater‘s summer edition as a sophomore, after just two semesters on staff. Fortunately for my own development, I was able to step back after that semester with what I learned and take a few more semesters to work as a reporter and mid-level editor before becoming No. 1 in charge. I started on what I expected to be the least time-consuming job, at the bottom proofing pages, and hit most news reporting/editing roles between. I finished as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, responsible ultimately for more than 100 people. That’s an insane amount of power to give a 20-year-old with one internship and two years in student media.

After I had been at my first real job even just a few months I remember thinking, “My God, why didn’t we think of doing it this way? How come no one told me!” If I knew then what I know now, that paper would have been 10,000 times more organized and productive. But it wasn’t. And that’s OK. The great thing about putting out a college paper is you don’t know and you don’t have to abide by all the rules of the professional news biz. So when I wanted to restructure my top editor positions to give the AME/Web more power, no one was there to say I couldn’t or that’s not how it’s done. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of how it should be done. More college papers should exploit that to think outside the box. I wish I had done so more than I did when I had a chance.

The flip-side to that and what you lose with the quick staff turnover, however, is institutional memory. I remember making mistakes that decades of other students had made before me, and I’ve since seen people make mistakes I made. But, to be honest, I learned a lot from those mistakes, and being able to make them on a smaller playing field went a long way in preparing me for my job today.

All that said, as much as I really enjoyed being the editor at my paper, the biggest thing I learned was totally unexpected. I felt like I was too far away from the story, the daily journalism. Maybe it was that we had several layers of editors between the top and the reporters on the ground, but I felt as EIC I spent too much time worrying about keeping photographers within the budget, working with advertising/compo to get enough space for our special packages, and putting out fires among the staff and sometimes the community. That definitely wasn’t why I got into this. Some people might relish the power and prestige, but I missed the journalism. That was a powerful lesson to learn and one I’m glad I learned early on before I was shuttled into management in my career.

My editor today often comments that some day I’ll be in his position. I usually comeback, “God, I hope not.” I admire what he does, but at this point, not only do I not want it, I’d be bad at it. I chose this job and to start where I am because I believe you need a strong foundation. Maybe in a decade, my editor’s position will be exactly where I feel my strengths are suited and where I can make the biggest impact. Today, though I think I did a fair enough job when I was a student editor, I am enjoying my time as a reporter. Yes, I have less power to change the institution, my opinion on what to cover or not cover carries less weight and sometimes I have to accept doing something I’d rather not on the terms of “because I said so” from above. But with my undergrad crash course in newspaper roles behind me, I don’t think an editorship is in my immediate future. I’ll be the first to admit, I have a lot to learn. At 23, I have plenty of time to learn it.

LOL @ nothired.com

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

If you’re a Twitter follower, you likely already know I discovered a new site about an hour ago.

It made me actually “LOL” several times, so I thought I’d pass along the joy of NotHired.com. Here are a couple of the journalism/writing related postings you may find as amusing as I did:


Here are a few typos from one applicant’s cover letter:

“I also teach an SAT prep course—the students their love me!”

. . .and. . .

“I can speak without thinking and right even better.”

Saving the best for last.

I’ll take “What not to call your potential employers?” for $1,000. Note the last graf:

It reminds me partly of Joe Grimm’s News Recruiter blog (the less formal journalism asides to his Ask the Recruiter column). In particular his Friday postings amuse me.

My two personal favorite lines from cover letters I proofread in college:

• Opening line of a cover letter from a photographer at my college paper in Kent, Ohio, to the Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer: “Greetings from Ohio!”

• In a cover letter from a designer to the Gannett recruiter conducting on-campus interviews: “I want to get with Gannett.”

I’m sure there are others. But those both stick out in my mind as the funniest. Your Turn: What’s the funniest mistake you’ve made or seen?

Does this make me a horrible journalist?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Quick, can you identify all of the people Mindy McAdams names in her post, Do you know who this is?

  • Vannevar Bush
  • Ted Nelson
  • Alan Kay
  • Vint Cerf
  • Bob Metcalfe
  • Tim Berners-Lee
  • Ivan Sutherland

I can’t.

I’m going to take one for the team here — the young’uns that is — and admit I didn’t know most of those names even in passing.

And please don’t shoot me, but Mike Royko was only vaguely familiar. (That’s the subject of the original post over at Newsosaur, re: a journalism student who didn’t know Royko’s name.)

Does that make me a horrible journalist? Should I hand over my reporters notebook and pen now?!

I’m 22. I didn’t take a “journalism history” course in college. Those lessons were interspersed among my Intro to Mass Comm, Law, Ethics, Magazine Publishing, Beat Reporting, etc. courses. And the famous journalists I did and do know are probably more happenstance than concentrated effort.

So someone give me a list of the top 10-15 greatest journalists of all time, and I promise I’ll memorize those I don’t know at the risk of looking dumb and being chastised down the line by some high-brow editor. No, seriously.

But therein also lies the problem. I’ll memorize it. Like it’s for a test, which I guess it could be. But who knows if the names I’m given would be the right ones. It’s kind of subjective.

I understand the usefulness of having historical context to understand where you have been and how it leads to where you are and will figure into where you go from here.

But am I a worse journalist for not knowing those names? Well, am I?

Does it make your 30-year veteran a worse journalist that he’d look at me like I was from Mars if I asked him about Rob Curley or Adrian Holovaty? They’re paving the future as much as any journalists have paved the past. Is it better to look forward or behind?

Or is it more important that my classes in j-school taught me and emphasized tangible things. I remember and use every day the practical skills that allow me to do this job competently not necessarily the names of those journalists before me. I can understand knowing important rulings like Times v. Sullivan. I can understand needing to know when newspapers started to mass publish and the impact cable had on broadcast TV. I can even understand and appreciate reading great journalists of the past to make my own work stronger.

But in the end, if I had to choose, I choose real-world application over historical context. That’s just me.

Another Stater alum joining the Indiana party

Monday, January 7th, 2008

When I got the first e-mail from my now-editor saying he’d seen my resume and had two reporting slots open, would I be interested in interviewing? I didn’t know what to say.

I’d heard of Lafayette. Kind of, sort of, in the way I’ve heard of Portland, Oregon, or Fairbanks, Alaska, or Ithaca, New York. I knew it existed and in which state of the union. But that’s where my knowledge ended.

I fired off a few e-mails to some professors, trying to gauge their collective knowledge of the city and the paper. One had never heard of it or been to the city. One noted the paper’s much-publicized redesign. One said it was a strong community paper. No ringing endorsements, but nothing to turn me off.

When I talked to my editor the first time, I’m sure thought I was crazy (not sure much has changed?). A lot of my questions focused not necessarily on the paper or the job but on the community. I wanted to land somewhere I would enjoy, somewhere I could grow, somewhere I could find my place. Luckily, I did.

But man, moving to a place where I didn’t know a soul, and which I wasn’t sure if I’d even like, was probably the craziest, scariest thing I’ve ever done. I know it comes with the territory of being a journalist. In fact, that was part of the draw to journalism. I obviously survived, but gosh, it sucked at the time.

So it was with great joy that one of my best friends from college came to intern here for the summer. It was with greater joy when another of my good friends from college accepted a job here.

Part of his reasoning for taking the job was that I was already here. How much easier is it to start from scratch in a new place when someone else has vetted the area for you and built a group of friends for you to slip into? A lot.

It helps that I like it here, though. If I didn’t, I would never let another of my friends within a hundred miles. I’d protect them by keeping them away. But instead, I’m helping them find their way to a place that is a good jumping off point.

So, it’s with great joy that another of my former Stater peers has just accepted a job here. She’ll join the copy desk. And more joy yet that another has applied for another job here.

We’re taking over. LOL. Not really, but considering a year ago this place wasn’t on the KSU radar (and still should be much more the territory of Ball State/IU grads), I say we’re on to something. I don’t know if it’s normal for one person to go somewhere and then start a chain reaction. Obviously this is my first job. But I like the fact that the next time a kid at Kent State sees an opening in Lafayette, when they ask about the paper the professors will all respond, “So&so and So&so and So&so all worked there. It’s a good community and strong paper. You should definitely check it out.”