Archive for the ‘Journalism Education’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
As I’m gathering web sites to recommend to students in a new journalism class that begins tomorrow, I stumbled upon the sad news of the death of Eugene Patterson, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who is one of the big names in civil rights reporting.
A link on MediaGazer to Patterson’s obituary presented an interesting twist of new media aggregation of the work of a journalist who made his mark in an old media age– a time when the newspaper was the medium that could change a world.
Patterson’s writings in The Atlanta Journal Constitution and St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) surely changed some minds.
Saying someone’s death is “untimely” has become a cliche. Does anyone ever pass away right “on time?” But, having someone like Eugene Patterson, who had so profound an impact on lives of many in the Deep South through his writings, around to see us through this 50th anniversary year of pivotal events that changed our country would have been especially outstanding.
I had the great fortune of hearing him speak just a few months after joining the journalism faculty here at The University of Alabama in 2003. Patterson was among the panelists for a “Press and Public Symposium”
I learned so much sitting there hearing about his work during a the civil rights era. But, it became much clearer to me a few years later when he and Hank Klibanoff released their Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Race Beat. Klibanoff has been to the University several times to talk about the book. (He autographed my copy)
Missed Opportunity in 2013
The Tuscaloosa News published on its front page an Associated Press story Sunday on the significance of 2013, the 50th anniversary of so many watershed events in our nation’s history — including the March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his ‘I Have a Dream Speech,’ the bombing of a Birmingham church that claimed the lives of four little girls and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Gene Patterson’s most famous column, ‘A Flower for the Graves’ was written following the September 1963 church bombing. It was read that evening by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News.
Here on our campus, 1963 was the year that first black students were enrolled.
It was my hope that Patterson might have been well enough to return to campus 10 years after the Press and Public Symposium to reflect and look ahead to the next 50 years for our campus. Sadly, that won’t happen.
I never got a chance to talk one-on-one with Eugene Patterson. Fortunately, even in his last days of life, he took the time to remind us what journalism is all about. He also had some keen insight of how we should position ourselves as technologies shift as the need for our profession continues.
Patterson’s Final Words On Journalism
“Journalists get to originate, validate and illuminate the real news if they carry forward the character of their calling,” Patterson wrote in the days following Thanksgiving. ” How they make the good stuff pay will follow the quality as it always has. “
According to Patterson, technology’s shift of news to new money models still leaves the key to the vault lying in the gold cache of character. That character leaves journalists to prospect for truth.
Patterson’s final essay is where I will begin my class tomorrow– What better words of wisdom to launch a semester-long experience with a new generation of journalists.
We’re on the eve of the second Scripps-Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute at Arizona State University.
I’m excited to be among the more than a dozen journalism faculty from around the country who are participating in what I know will be an outstanding learning experience.
This is the second in a series of posts I’ve dubbed “Phoenix Filings” related to that Institute and the incredible opportunity to spend a few days in the Southwestern United States. In a post yesterday, I set up this experience with five goals I have for the trip.
Today, we’ll talk more concretely about the business at hand– preparing to launch a course in entrepreneurial journalism.
Just learned that one of the giants in the field of media management and economics– Dr. Mary Alice Shaver– passed away this week.
Even though I won’t be able to attend her memorial service tomorrow in Fearrington Village, North Carolina, I can use the same mass communication that Mary Alice researched and taught thousands of students to use to celebrate her life and the impact that she had on up-and-coming media management scholars like me.
“Media Management and Economics, as well as the academy at large, has lost a star,” said Ken Killibrew, the current head of the Media Management and Economics Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
I remember first talking to Mary Alice when she was on the faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and I was considering doctoral programs in mass communication.
While I didn’t end up at Chapel Hill, I certainly ran into Mary Alice again and again as I presented research projects in media management at regional and national conferences.
I vividly remember sitting in on a panel one year at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium (in Chapel Hill, NC) where Mary Alice talked about what one needed to do to get published in academic journals.
In his statement this evening, Killibrew remembered Mary Alice as “a tough scholar with extraordinary standards who challenged each of us to do our best.”
I would definitely agree.
When news of Mary Alice’s passing came tonight, I immediately thought back to one of those cheesy grip-and-grin photos that we’re never supposed to take in journalism. (The ones we tell our students to avoid)
I was in one of those grip-and-grin photos in August 2000 as Mary Alice presented me a research award for a paper written from data collected for my master’s thesis at The University of Georgia.
Despite the cliche nature of the photograph, it now has special meaning as it’s a way for me to visually reflect the link I had as a graduate student to one who had such an influence on our field.
She’s one of the giants in the field who actually knew me by name. As I continue to make contributions to media management, I do so with a mandate to be excellent and to follow the example that Mary Alice Shaver set for so many of us.
All who were hoping Paul Isom would re-gain his job as student media director at East Carolina University can forget about that notion.
As of Friday, Isom has officially “resigned” from his position overseeing The East Carolinian, the newspaper that ran photos of a streaker who took the field during halftime at a East Carolina University football game last November.
In a post here last month, I shared comments from Isom’s address about the ordeal given during the 2012 AEJMC Southeast Colloquium at Virginia Tech.
“I was fired in retaliation for an editorial decision, students made,” Isom said in the March 9 keynote address.
Following several weeks of negotiations with East Carolina officials, my former University of Alabama colleague has changed his tune.
A joint statement crafted by lawyers for both Isom and ECU even included a nice quote that, at least on the surface, makes it appear the story had an OK resolution. Isom received $31,200, which is the cost of health insurance and salary for six months at his former rate of pay.
“This allows us all to get on with our lives, without having to drag this out indefinitely,” Isom said in the statement released Friday. “I truly enjoyed my time at ECU. The students were eager to learn, and were always very professional.”
So What Did We Learn?
1. Don’t Jump to Conclusions
First Amendment and student expression advocates like myself should better investigate cases before jumping to conclusions right?
I suppose that’s why the Society of Professional of Journalists (SPJ) and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) were slow to jump on the bandwagon defending Isom.
2. Things Are Not Always What They Appear
Despite the nice statement released Friday, my guess is there is a lot more to this case than the general public will ever know. Sometimes some things are best handled behind closed doors, a hard pill for those of us in journalism to swallow.
Maybe Paul Isom’s case was not the test case that we all thought it would be for how media advisers should fight the good fight for their students, at all costs.
3. New Direction for ECU Student Media Will Be Revealed Over Time
I guess we should take ECU officials at their word. In Friday’s statement, they reiterated that Isom’s (now) resignation was part of their effort to “take student journalism at The East Carolinian in a new direction.”
4. Isom’s Issues Present A Case Study To Be Reviewed for Years To Come
In spite of all that’s been said about Paul Isom’s case, the convincing arguments he made for why a school like ECU would take the action that it did are noteworthy.
I know I’ll be referring to the video from Isom’s address on my YouTube Channel from time to time.
Those of us who teach journalism have a duty to examine such issues as we socialize new publication staffs into their role as watchdog journalists in a culture where the relationship between university officials and student journalists is antagonistic.