Archive for the ‘Journalism Education’ Category

In Its 8th Year, University of Alabama’s “Documenting Justice” Still Shining Spotlight on Injustice

April 15, 2014

When it comes to teaching students about diversity and difference, few exercises are more powerful than having students to research and produce their own films.

We are fortunate at The University of Alabama to empower non-media production students to do exactly that while at the same time bringing much-needed attention to cases of injustice right here in our state.

After eight years,  Andy Grace and Rachel Morgan deserve applause for sustaining a rather unique program known as “Documenting Justice,” where students labor for two semesters to learn the practice and process of making movies while  using the tools of an anthropologist to engage in indepth study of an issue or a community here in our state.

The end product of the two semesters of work is shared in a public screening in downtown Tuscaloosa at The Bama Theater.

This video previews the six films that were screened this evening at The Bama Theater:

The six films screened this evening provided SIX Important Lessons about Injustice in our own state:

  • Lesson #1  Birmingham’s Norwood community shows what happens when white flight collides with Interstate highway development.
    In “Norwood,” Filmmakers Myranda Bennett and Kelly Konrad took the ongoing discussion about urban blight to a new level by showing us what people in Norwood think about the abandoned homes in their neighborhood.  This could have been any community once on the cutting edge, but in latter decades has “gone down” as people have moved away.    The variety of interviews was what made the lessons in “Norwood” real.  I think this was the one of the top two films of the evening.
  • Lesson #2  Sexual assault is still a problem in 2014 and should be examined through the lens of those recovering from the assault.As unfortunate as sexual assault is, there’s been so much attention paid to it , you might think “Why is this still happening?” Abbey Pint and Megan Dillard didn’t just tell another story about rape based on the experience of the one who was assaulted.  They identified a range of female assault victims who focused on telling stories of how they are recovering, not just on the details of what happened.
  • Lesson #3 Disability and race are under-covered and can be depicted by looking at the experience of hearing impaired in the African American community.
    How do you negotiate the two types of difference of being black and not being able to hear?  Filmmakers Gabrielle Taylor and Johanna Obenda tackled this subject in an usual film with lots of sub-titles and silence.
  • Lesson #4- Alabama has a REAL PROBLEM with its laws for animal spay and neutering.
    My favorite film of the evening was “Fixed” where Connor Towne O’Neill and Kenny Kruse took their cameras inside the local animal shelter here in Tuscaloosa and the shelter in Shelby County.   But, they didn’t stop there.  They contrasted the situation in New England where many animals are transferred from Alabama and here in our community where there are not enough laws governing spay and neutering of animals.   I’m not a big pet lover.   But,  I found this particular film so informative.  It increase my sensitivity to a major injustice here in our state.
  • Lesson #5- You can tell a story with no interviews and narration.
    Filmmakers Kyle Leoparda and J.L. Clark may not have intended it.  But “Run of Mine” about the coal mining community is a good example of how to shoot a film and leave out the talking or the interview clips.   The natural sound of the coal mining in Brookwood provided an interesting twist on how to make a movie in a non-traditional fashion.
  • Lesson #6-  There is a ministry for an openly-gay Southern Baptist minister
    The final film, “Sanctuary” spotlights the difficult challenge facing Christians who are openly-gay.   Filmmakers Rachel Arnsen and Myah Wilder interviewed members of The Spirit of the Cross Church in Huntsville.   While a brief mention was of Leviticus, this film focused less on the theological debate and more on the spiritual lives of those who are living their Christian lives often away from their families.

Hats Off to the Chattanooga Times Free Press and Two-Time University of Alabama Alumna Joan McClane For Noteworthy Reporting

April 15, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 6.37.25 AMIt’s a pleasure to start the day by reading one of the top three examples of local reporting in all of journalism and to know it was produced, in part, by one of your former students.

Joan Garrett McClane completed her bachelor and master's degrees in journalism at The University of Alabama.

Joan Garrett McClane completed her bachelor and master’s degrees in journalism at The University of Alabama.

That’s what I am doing this morning as I check out the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, which we learned Monday was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, the highest award in journalism.

It seems like only yesterday Joan Garrett (now Joan Garrett McClane) was sitting in my classes as part of the Knight Fellows in Community Journalism at the University of Alabama.

Now she’s spending nine months researching a story analyzing homicide cases and learning, among other things, that fewer than half of shooting suspects in Chattanooga are caught.

According to the story “Speak No Evil, ” 58 percent of open homicide and shooting investigations in Chattanooga are at dead ends because of witness silence.

This gives me a whole different impression of that community surrounded by mountains off Interstate 24.  You see it as you travel between Atlanta and Nashville or going from North Alabama up to Knoxville, Tenn.

The Pulitzer committee recognized    McClane, Todd South, Doug Strickland and Mary Helen Miller  “for using an array of journalistic tools to explore the “no-snitch” culture that helps perpetuate a cycle of violence in one of the most dangerous cities in the South.”

Today I recognize McClane, in particular, for developing the multimedia skill set as a student and putting it to work in way that brought national recognition to her news organization and great pride to those of us here in the journalism department at The University of Alabama.

Having done research at the Chattanooga newspaper several years ago, I know what a top-notch news operation they have there.  Now the world knows by another example of the work the staff there is producing.

I’m just excited that one of our graduates is among those producing such work.

Way to go Joan!

 

Celebrating Two Journalism Educators Who Advocated For Diversity

April 7, 2014

It’s funny how important a single encounter with a person can be.

On Sunday, two retired journalism educators, with whom I had only a single brief encounter passed away.  But, regardless of how well I knew them personally, Marian Huttenstine and Chuck Stone are noteworthy models for the trails they blazed as journalism educators and for the diversity they brought to the media.

They both leave legacies for what it means to make “DIVERSITY” an action word.

Fortunately, two institutions where they taught– the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continue Stone and Huttenstine’s legacies today with initiatives aimed at high school students.

Much has been written about Chuck Stone, one of the founders of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), of which I am a member.  He was our first national president.

But, many may not know about the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media, a summer workshop for rising high school senior that began in 2007.

Chuck Stone was the first president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Photo Courtesy: UNC

Chuck Stone was the first president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Photo Courtesy: UNC

Glimpse of Chuck Stone at Work

While I can’t call Mr. Stone a personal friend or even an acquaintance, I did have the occasion to see him at work at his office in the old Howell Hall (former site of the UNC School of Journalism) in the late 1990s.

At the time, I was just a visitor on the beautiful Chapel Hill campus checking out prospective Ph.D. programs in mass communication.   Seeing the legendary Chuck Stone as he worked with a UNC student in his office was a highlight of my visit.

Ironically, UNC also factored  into my path from working journalist to journalism professor through another person.

Dr. Huttenstine received her PhD. from the University of North Carolina.   She taught media law for many years here at University of Alabama, where a few years after she left, I ended up in my first full-time job as a faculty member.

Back in 2004, I had the good fortune of meeting her on the 20th anniversary of the Multicultural Journalism Workshop, which she started with then graduate student Marie Parsons, who went on to be the first director of the workshop and a member of the faculty.

Hundreds of students have come through this workshop that is now in its 31st year.  As a graduate of a similar Dow Jones News Fund workshop back in the 1980s,  I know firsthand what a difference it can make in a high school student’s career planning.

Huttenstine: Opening Doors for Female Administrators

The only photo I have of Marian Huttenstine was of her on our 25th anniversary program for the Multicultural Journalism Workshop.

The only photo I have of Marian Huttenstine (lower right) was of her on our 25th anniversary program for the Multicultural Journalism Workshop in 2008.

Even Stone and Huttenstine both passed away on Sunday, Dr. Huttenstine may not make the national headlines the way that Professor Stone has this week.   But, her impact through her creation of the Minority Journalism Workshop in 1984 had just as much impact as Stone’s as one of the founders of NABJ.

Huttenstine is credited with having the idea for MJW (now known as the “Multicultural Journalism Workshop”)   A decade ago, the editorial board of the Tuscaloosa News recognized the importance of such an idea, that has been sustained for three decades.

She’s also among those who opened the doors for women to eventually to serve as leaders of academic units like our own College of Communication and Information Sciences.  Long before the University of Alabama would have its first female president (Dr. Judy Bonner), there was the Capstone Women’s Network (CWN).

CWN was started in 1980 as one local effort here at University of Alabama to respond to the national call to expand and improve the opportunities for women to be in administrative decision-making posts.

After her stint on the faculty at the University of Alabama,  Huttenstine went on to become the first female chair of the Department of Communication at Mississippi State University.

Today incoming freshman in the MSU communication program can apply for the Marian Huttenstine Scholarship that was named in her honor.

More than once I’ve run into alumni from our program here at University of Alabama who vividly remember Huttenstine as a tough media law professor.

But, even if we don’t have those memories as students,  we can be students of hers and Stone’s way of marrying education with the ongoing effort to bring about diversity in the nation’s newsrooms and media outlets.     This week every journalism educator should remember them and re-commit ourselves as individuals to continue what they started as we do our part in preparing tomorrow’s journalists and mass communication professionals.

Marian and Chuck, we’ll miss you.  But, your work will continue!

Yes, Tim Steere and Ryan Phillips, You ARE Journalists!

February 22, 2014

In our work as journalism professors, sometimes we have to play the role of encourager and promoter.    Such is the case today as I learned that not one, but TWO of my current students seemed to question their affiliation with the journalism profession.

In a recent blog post,  West Virginia University Graduate and University of Alabama Journalism Master’s Student Tim Steere questioned whether we should call him a journalist

He was writing about one of his first interviews.  This comes from someone who also worked for On campus Sports, a site that says its site provides content produced  “exclusively by student journalists on campus.”       Steere tweeted earlier this month how excited he was to be interviewing the record holder for striped bass.

Sounds like something a journalist would say.    Tim, my friend, YOU ARE A JOURNALIST!    Embrace your role.

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Steere is one of seven graduate students enrolled in our one-year community journalism master’s program here at The University of Alabama.   The program puts them to work during their last two academic terms in the nation’s first “Teaching Newspaper,” the Anniston Star.      The “COM-J” program, as it is affectionately called,  was hailed  by the Poynter Institute as one of the programs that had “bucked the grim trend.”

Steere’s  classmate, Ryan Phillips, who works as one of the editors of the Tuscaloosa- based alternative publication, Planet Weekly, identified himself as an “aspiring author.”

“I hate the term journalist, ” Phillips wrote recently.

WHAT?  You’re in a community journalism master’s program.   But, you hate the very label of which we should be most proud?

Starting with incoming freshmen, I work every day to encourage a new generation of journalists even as they are learning the tenets of our most noble profession.

Starting with incoming freshmen, I work every day to encourage a new generation of journalists even as they are learning the tenets of our most noble profession.

Time for some Cheerleading

As a long-time member of the Society of Professional Journalists,  I am one of the biggest proponents of us journalists identifying with a profession that has practices that are unmatched.

In almost every class I teach at the University of Alabama,  I have become a cheerleader for our profession, which is much-maligned by those who hear the horror stories of newspapers laying off reporters and news outlets that get the story wrong.

But, our unwavering commitment to accuracy, integrity, balance, fairness and ethical reporting is one of the things that separates us from just ANY author.    We are not just writing words.  We are writing the news and reporting the news in a way that communities need to move forward.  Our readers are citizens who depend on our professional work product to exercise their role of citizen in a free democracy.

I know there are those who have left black marks on our profession.   But,  every time I write here on this blog or produce a video for my YouTube Channel or when I was producing one of the hundreds of live TV newscasts more than a decade ago, I was (and still am) doing journalism.  And, I’m darn proud of it.

I just wish great students like Tim Steere and Ryan Phillips could share my pride.

imagesloveJNA Love of Journalism

Fortunately, just as there were two of my students shunning their journalism labels,  three other students were embracing their journalistic affiliations and recently inspired another generation of students– mostly those in high school– to learn and perfect the craft of feature writing.

Elizabeth Manning, in fact, wrote about teaching on Valentine’s Day some important skills about writing.

“Going back to the basics reminded me yet again that a writer cannot divorce journalism from feeling,” Manning noted in reflecting on the experience at the recent Alabama Scholastic Press Association Winter Convention here in Tuscaloosa.

One of her co-presenters, Laura Monroe,  reported that their session was so good that it sparked lots of questions from the up-and-coming journalists, one of whom noted “I want to be you guys one day.”

Wow!  Now THAT is the reaction we want to elicit from folks when we talk about what we do as journalists.

The theme for the ASPA Convention was “Spread the Love” and thanks to Monroe, Manning and their Elizabeth Lowder, we have some other young people who have the potential to be proud what we do in journalism enough to join the profession.

Evernote, Tout Impress Me As Mobile Apps I Could Use

October 13, 2013

When it comes to working as a mobile journalist, there are more and more tools that make the task of telling stories on the go easier.

There’ s no more portable tool than a notebook that you can pick up and, along with a pen, take notes.

Imagine that?   An “old-fashioned” stack of paper bound together with a wire spiral.    It still works.

And, guess what else works– themicrocassette recorder.  You can do wonders in recording sound with it.    It aids in note-taking and it’s small enough to fit in your pocket, along with the notepad.

Of course- these tools are NOT the focus of this post.

Portability vs. Mobility

Just because something is portable doesn’t mean it’s mobile.   What?     You can carry around a tape recorder, full-size or micro cassette.  You also can carry around a typewriter that has a case.   These tools are portable, but are they really designed to be used ON THE GO?

Portable equipment can moved from one place to another.   But,  I would not be able to used a portable typewriter just anywhere.

Nowadays, we can do so much more with just one device.   And, the devices are DESIGNED to be moved frequently.  They’re small enough, lightweight and created with the idea that the user can work in virtually the palm of his/her hand.

Tout it Out

Tout is a video service that came online just about three years ago in 2010.    The site is describe on its

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web site as a “mobile video publishing platform changing the way leading news, sports and entertainment brands engage their audience wherever they are.”

The Tout mobile application enables journalists, TV reporters and media companies of all types to quickly and easily capture video updates on their smart phone or tablets – and with one click, publish those video updates instantly to real-time feeds on their websites, mobile APP’s, or to any major social platform where they have a presence.

Broadcasting & Cable Magazine reported on the site in December 2011 calling a “social video” web site.    At the time, some television stations were already talking about what options Tout presented to them.

But, does this really replace having a real HD-television camera on the scene of a story?

Apparently, WESH-2, the NBC affiliate in Orlando, has found a use for the site.    Jason Guy and Meredith McDonough have posted two of the seven Tout’s on WESH’s Tout site.

While it has a lot more Touts,  WFLD’s 71 videos on its site don’t seem to be very current.   The Fox Station in Chicago only has three contributors who are using the site.   Mostly the videos are more promotions for stories that they’re airing on TV.

So, based on these TV examples,  I think the jury’s still out on Tout for TV.

As for me,  well I have a channel, but only a few followers and a handful of videos.

At least I’ve given it a try with my smartphone.

Another mobile app that I’m willing to give a try is Evernote.

Evernote’s Advantages Go Beyond Just Centralizing Notetaking

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 8.55.23 PMWhen it comes to taking notes, if you’re like me, you’ve own scribbled something down and then lost the note.

Evernote makes that less likely to happen because your notes are in the CLOUD.   (As in cloud computing)

I just set up an account for this site.

So whether I’m on my computer desktop, my laptop or a mobile device, I will be able to access those notes anywhere.

I also see on this device that you can add audio to a note.  That seems impressive.  But, I will have to try it out.

Outstanding Class for 30th Multicultural Journalism Workshop Wraps Up 10-Day Experience in Tuscaloosa

June 24, 2013
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Students in the 30th Multicultural Journalism Workshop each gave short presentations Sunday at their closing program, attended by members of their family.

So proud of all of the students who we hosted here this past week at The University of Alabama for the 30th Multicultural Journalism Workshop.

This Dow Jones News Fund workshop is one of the longest-running in the nation and brings together some of hottest prospects for diversifying  journalism schools around the nation.

This afternoon, students unveiled their web-based product — the MJP Journal 2013 edition, which featured stories on the 50th anniversary of key events in civil rights history, including the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” here at the University and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

The reporting, based on two days of reporting in Central Alabama, provided students some life-changing (and potentially career-forming) experiences.

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My cousin, Kelly Royster of Henrico High School in Richmond, Va, shares her high points and biggest challenges of the Multicultural Journalism Workshop at the University of Alabama.

I was proud of see among this year’s class, my cousin, Kelly Royster, who hails from Henrico High School in my hometown of Richmond, Va.

But, there were so many other outstanding students in this class.  Just impressive in their thirst for knowledge, their depth of understanding of issues and excitement about possibly studying journalism after their finish high school.

I’m glad I had a chance to work with them in some of the broadcast news sessions and incorporate them into one of my college journalism classes this past week.

IF this year’s MJW students are indication,  our future as a journalism profession is VERY BRIGHT.

Ohio U. Students, Faculty Share Wisdom From Gwen Ifill Lecture

February 25, 2013
  1. .@OhioU Schuneman Symposium on Photojournalism and New Media starts at 7:30p with Gwen Ifill’s #keynote! htl.li/hGgSP #Smitty13
  2. RT @scrippsjschool: Happy birthday to us! At #Smitty13, we are celebrating 90 years of journalism education! http://twitpic.com/c6vdlf
  3. Congrats to the Scripps School on reaching a milestone!  You’ve set the bar high for all of us in the journalism education. Keep up the good work!
  4. RT @tanyatrash: If there’s any single person an aspiring journalist should look up to, Gwen Ifill would definitely be it. #smitty13 http://pic.twitter.com/lvdp7KKDsI
  5. RT @BenClos1: Diversity in a newsroom is very important so there are people who have a thorough understanding of a story. @pbsgwen #Smitty13
  6. “Smitty” Schuneman accepts the 2013 Ohio Communication Hall of Fame award #Smitty13 http://twitpic.com/c6vbzt
  7. @pbsgwen really emphasized the importance of listening–we need to stop shouting and adding to the noise, and listen. #smitty13
  8. At PBS we believe you can decide what you think about what’s going on if we give you the information you need. Gwen Ifill. #smitty13
  9. Diversity has been talked about so much the term has become devalued, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still needed.. @pbsgwen #smitty13
  10. YES– I’m a huge Mary Rogus fan, a fellow broadcast journalist who also teaches multimedia reporting.
  11. RT @JennyHallJones: RT @scrippsjschool: “It’s important to listen, especially if you disagree.” – @pbsgwen #Smitty13

Attention Journalism Students: Bob Woodward Is More Than a Figure in American History

February 23, 2013
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WOODWARD-NOW

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Woodward THEN- in the 1970s as a reporter for The Washington Post. Courtesy: http://www.achievement.com

You couldn’t tell it by the standing-room only crowd that came to hear Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward Friday night.

But, dozens of University of Alabama journalism students missed what for me was a once-in-lifetime opportunity:  A Chance to Hear and Meet One of the Greatest Journalists Ever.

woodwardcrowd

Present and Former Fellows of the Blackburn Institute, a leadership program here at University of Alabama, took the front rows at Friday’s lecture by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward. UA President Judy Bonner and Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Nelson were also in attendance.

I left the outstanding lecture with mixed feelings- EXCITED and ENERGIZED about what we do as journalists, but ANGRY because so many of our journalism students did not show up.   I saw fewer than 20 of the students in our classes here at the University attendance.

We have more than 300 majors in the UA journalism department.

This was such an important event that we invited students from the Society of Professional Journalists from Auburn University and Jacksonville State University to make the more than two-hour drive to Tuscaloosa for the lecture.

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Students from Auburn University’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter took a photo with Bob Woodward after his lecture Friday night at University of Alabama.

And, the AU And JSU students both had delegations at the event, which was sponsored by UA’s Blackburn Institute.

We had dozens of high school journalists in town for the Alabama Scholastic Press Association Winter Convention.  But only one or two schools came to hear Bob Woodward, even though we re-arranged the convention schedule to include the 6 p.m. lecture.

Who is Bob Woodward?

Today as I began a 3-hour videojournalism workshop with 15 middle school students from the Birmingham area,  I asked them what they knew about Bob Woodward.

Most were aware of his work connected to the Watergate scandal.  These 6th, 7th and 8th graders could name all the U.S. presidents who Woodward has interviewed and featured in his 17 books.

These students were really sharp.  But,  I wonder how many of my college students are equally as adept in their knowledge of civics?

A matter of memory and relevance

I don’t remember Watergate.  It happened when I was two years old.

I told the middle school group today that the first president I can remember was Jimmy Carter whose inauguration we watched in the cafeteria when I was in 1st grade at Richmond Mary Scott Elementary School.

But, when you talk about why we do journalism, it’s hard not to point to the stellar investigative work of  Seymour Hersh, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and more recently, Brett Blackledge.

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Bob Woodward addressed a capacity crowd in Sellers Auditorium at the Bryant Conference Center Friday night. The event was sponsored by University of Alabama’s Blackburn Institute.

As was evident in much of his address last night, Woodward is very much engaged in the policy issues that confront the White House and Congress today.

In fact, in his remarks Friday night,  he referenced his latest writing this weekend about the sequester, the $85 billion in spending cuts set to take effect March 1.

woodwardCW2

Members of The Crimson White staff had a separate meeting with Bob Woodward on Friday when the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist was in town for the Blackburn Institute’s Winter Symposium.

There were a handful of UA journalism students there.  A few of the members staff of the student newspaper,  The Crimson White, had a separate meeting with Woodward earlier on Friday.

What could be more important than hearing and meeting Bob Woodward?

Perhaps it’s a matter of relevance.   Sports figures, pop culture icons and other celebrities are more relevant to today’s students.

If they’re not studying public policy or leadership, should students  be engaged with people like Bob Woodward?

SEVEN Lessons I Learned From Hearing CNN’s Don Lemon Speak at University of Alabama

February 23, 2013

For me, this particular week will be most remembered as one where I had a golden opportunity to hear THREE journalists speak here at the University of Alabama– CNN Anchor Don Lemon, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post and WIAT-TV CBS 42′s Jim Dunaway.

Don Lemon’s talk was the one that provided me, a mid-career journalist who’s now teaching full-time, with some lessons I can apply immediately.

Despite my antics in an earlier post about Mr. Lemon’s name and his book TRANSPARENT,   I think a more serious tone can be taken with the SEVEN takeaways from his visit with my graduate and undergraduate students here at the The University of Alabama this past Thursday.

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Don Lemon addressed students in the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences during a February 21 visit to the Tuscaloosa campus. He also did a campuswide lecture to a standing-room only crowd at the Ferguson Center Theater.

1. You can make it big even if you’re not a good student in college.
Lemon was very frank and open about his story of not being an honors student at either Louisiana State University where took classes in the Manship School of Journalism and Mass Communication or Brooklyn College,  where he eventually finished his degree.

If you consider working on NBC’s “Today Show” or anchoring at CNN “making it big,” then Lemon definitely demonstrates it doesn’t matter where you start, but how you finish.   (And, he’s clearly not finished)

2. You can do a LIVE REPORT from a gay bar in Alabama.

Perhaps the most memorable television news war story was Don Lemon’s account of how he localized the 1997 murder of Italian Fashion Designer Gianni Versace, a virtual unknown to Lemon’s co-workers in the WBRC-TV Fox 6 newsroom, where he worked for 11 months.

Lemon recalled the opening line of his story, which he presented live from a gay bar in the Birmingham area (Versace was openly gay.)

“HIS RUNWAYS STRETCHED FROM EUROPE TO AMERICA, BUT STOPPED AT THE ALABAMA STATE LINE”

Couched in this story was an important lesson about diversity in the television newsroom, a key focus for my Communication and Diversity course.

“You have to be bold.  You cannot be afraid,” Lemon told the University of Alabama students.

His journey from Birmingham to St. Louis to Philadelphia and then to networks of NBC has been filled with opportunities to offer a perspective the newsrooms where he worked lacked.

3. You can be transformed by writing your story.
As he began his talk, Lemon told the students how telling story in his 2011 book, TRANSPARENT,  transformed him.   He’s finding himself doing a lot more speaking engagements like the one he had this week on our campus here in Tuscaloosa.  This reminds me that I need to finish my own first book.

The words “TRANSFORMED BY BEING TRANSPARENT” seem to be applicable here.

4. You can be inspired by Jean West
Apparently I’m not the only one who was inspired to get in broadcast journalism by those who blazed the trail before me.   In college in the early 1990s, I had posters of former NBC Today Show anchor Bryant Gumbel all over the wall of my dorm room.   I wanted to be the next Bryant Gumbel.

For Don Lemon, a former Baton Rouge anchorwoman, who now works in the Louisville television market, Jean West, was his role model.    Today, West is apparently still showing there’s life after two decades as a local television anchor.  She’s producing Jean West’s Medical Digest and Jean West’s Medical Daily via her own company, Faces West Productions.

Since Lemon’s visit on Thursday,  I’m inspired by just reading about her work.

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Lemon talked extensively about his television career, including his 11 months working in the Birmingham (Ala) market at WBRC-TV.

5. The journey to “THE TOP” is better than the destination.

“The top is not that exciting,” Lemon said.  “What’s exciting is the journey and you didn’t realize it.”

I couldn’t have said it better.   Actually, those were almost my exact words ten years ago when I gave the student commencement address at the University of Georgia when I completed by Ph.D. degree in mass communication.

But, rather than  my eight-year television news career, I was talking about the three-and-a-half year journey to obtaining a doctoral degree.

I suppose Lemon’s advice applies to any major effort we pursue in life.

It really is the EXPERIENCE going through the process toward our destination or the  journey to our goal that is most rewarding.

6. The path for diverse newsroom perspectives has already been blazed
While noting that racism hasn’t ended, Lemon urged students to not worry about those challenges now, as the stage for diverse newsrooms has already been set.

“You worry about being excellent,” he said.  “Just be excellent.”

7. Reporters still have to cry (and GET ANGRY) sometimes

I have a new case study for the unit I do each summer on “Journalists and Trauma” in my basic news reporting class.

Having been trained in Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and its link to news reporting by reporters and editors who covered the Oklahoma City Bombing, I had not heard of specific cases of trauma for reporters covering the December massacre in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Lemon told his story of crying on-air while covering the tragedy in Newtown, CT last year.    He says he’s still going through counseling for PTSD.

But, he also stepped out of the role of “objective” journalist to take his own stand.  His statement about assault weapons has been archived on YouTube.

“I was not a reporter in Newtown,” Lemon told the UA students this week.   I was just  a human being talking to you.”

Got My Grocery List of Goodies I’m Seeking at Journalism Interactive

February 8, 2013

GAINESVILLE–  For the second time in less than a year, I’m waking up in the hometown of the Florida Gators in the very same hotel room.

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The venue for most of the events today at Journalism Interactive is the historic Hippodrome in downtown Gainesville. Seems like it being there will be a story in and of itself.

So, what would possess a two-time Georgia Bulldog and 10-year Alabama professor to do that?    Well,  I’ve come with a grocery list of things I need to pick up at what I see as a fairly unique digital-intensive two-day journalism conference.

It’s called Journalism Interactive (J/i).   Because of a conflict with the Convergence Conference in 2011, I only got to attend one day of the first  J/i at The University of Maryland.   So, even though the SPJ Regional was just here in March, I’m back in Gatorland to get some journalism goodies,  things you need if you’re in the business of preparing journalists.

Here’s what on my list:

An understanding of the unicorn
Apparently, I missed the memo that journalism instructors are supposed to be creating journalist/designer/coders in our programs.  Clearly I’m behind as I thought we teaching cross-platform journalism who could negotiate print/online/broadcast.   This lead session this morning ought to be worth the price of registration.

Cairo’s Connection to Graphics Journalism
I’ve never taught graphics journalism per se, but I certainly have a different view of it after reading part of Alberto Cairo’s book,  The Functional Art  recently.   A lot of stuff about how our brains work.   His session this morning should give me some goodies to take back to cross-media reporting.

Data Viz Competition
I have no idea what Data Viz is.  So, my friend Jake Batsell from SMU (who also has been to the  Convergence Conference) is goign to teach me all about it at the Teach-a-Thon this afternoon.

The lowdown on 4-D Storytelling
Ginny Whitehouse from Eastern Kentucky, was among those of us at the first Journalism Interactive.  She’s on the program this year talking about 4-D Storytelling.  I teach about preparing media message with the “4 Screen Strategy.”  But is that the same as the 4-D Storytelling?  I’ll find out this afternoon.

Instructions on how to teach computer hacking
Well, I never thought I would be teaching my journalism students how to hack.  But, Gary Kebbel from University of Nebraska has a demo on Teaching Computer hackers this afternoon.  Professor Kebbel was on the program at the first J/i talking about curriculum issues as a dean.  Now he’s into doing hackathons at his Center for Mobile Media in the town of ‘Big Red.’   Guess that’s what happens after you do journalism administration?

Pictures of Florida’s new digital newsroom
When we here for the SPJ Southeast Regional Conference last spring, there was lots of construction going on in Weimar Hall on a new digital newsroom.  A picture of the finished product is on the back of our J/i program.  So we’ll get a chance to see it tomorrow

More Entrepreneurial Journalism Insights
It’s only been a month since the Scripps-Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute.  But, even as I teach entrepreneurship in my Assessing Community Journalism class this semester, Jim Brady and David Cohn, who spoke last month in Phoenix, are on the program here.  I really look forward to hearing more from them not only only entrepreneurship, but intrapreneurship (a new word for me that I introduced in class last week)

Everything starts later this morning.   This is a multi-venue event, meaning things are happening at lots of different places around Gainesville.  That’s good.   Usually when I come here I spend all my time in Weimar Hall, Florida’s j-school.   But, they’re showing us some of the other great places this time.    More to come!

So, while the hotel where I’m staying in Downtown Gainesville somehow placed me in the same room where I stayed in 2012, I’m expecting something VERY DIFFERENT as I get these journalism goodies today.  Stay tuned!


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