Full Disclosure: Using FOIA requests in a college newsroom

McMichael’s student, Hannah Daniel, recently received copies of her grandfather’s World War II medals using the Freedom of Information Act.

How Georgia College students are breaking news using the state’s open records law

By Pate McMichael, adviser, The Colonnade, and senior lecturer, Georgia College

The first story broke on a Monday morning in our group chat: “I just heard a GC bus hit a person.”

Over the next five weeks, Georgia College, a public liberal arts university in Middle Georgia with 7,000 students, would experience the death of bicyclist, a devastating fraternity house fire, a norovirus outbreak that shut down the dining hall, an armed robbery blocks from campus, and the shooting of a GC student who narrowly survived.

Our tiny young staff at The Colonnade had little experience fielding red-hot news, but that group message changed everything. For the two editors staffing the news desk, the grind of those five weeks taught them a valuable lesson: getting public records in a timely manner can make or break the big story. Continue reading “Full Disclosure: Using FOIA requests in a college newsroom”

New media law text encourages ‘thinking like a journalist.’

Review: ‘Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition),’ by Ashley Messenger

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

“Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition),” by Ashley Messenger

Teaching media law to undergraduate journalism and communications students is challenging. The concepts are esoteric and complex, even for law students. For undergraduates, the laws often seem foreign and counterintuitive (tweets are copyrighted?!). Many of the media law textbooks and other resources are written by lawyers in language that seems directed to other lawyers or law students.

Luckily, in the mix of available course materials lies “Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition)”, by Ashley Messenger, who is NPR’s Associate General Counsel. This accessible and user-friendly book is an outlier. Although written by a lawyer, the language is direct and straightforward, exactly what you want for undergraduates, most of whom have never taken a law course before.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been teaching media law in various iterations – with and without ethics, in person and online, to undergraduates and graduate students – for almost two decades. In my classes, I have used many of the available resources, including the first edition of Messenger’s book, as well as other media law textbooks. Some of them have worked; others haven’t. Messenger’s book works. Continue reading “New media law text encourages ‘thinking like a journalist.’”

Review: ‘Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and The Fight for Facts,’ by Jill Abramson

Abramson details ‘wrenching transition’ of a new media world

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

 Jill Abramson’s “Merchants of Truth” received a great deal of attention when it was published in February 2019. But, not for the right reasons. A day after its release, Vice News correspondent Michael Moynihan posted on Twitter paragraphs about his news outlet from Abramson’s book, side by side with similar paragraphs from The New Yorker, the Columbia Journalism Review, Time Out magazine, and other works. Abramson, who is the former Executive Editor of The New York Times, initially denied the allegations of plagiarism, claiming that some Vice News employees were unhappy with her portrayal of Vice in the book. Yet, she promised to carefully review the questioned passages.

After that review, Abramson acknowledged “citation errors” in the book, conceding that some passages included language that is “way too close for comfort” to its source material “and probably should have been in quotes.” In an interview with CNN, she said, “I made some errors in the way I credited sources, but that there was no attempt to pass off someone’s ideas, opinions and phrasings as my own.” Bill Keller, Abramson’s predecessor as the New York Times’ Executive Editor, tweeted support for his colleague: “Jill Abramson is a journalist of courage and integrity. She has written a great book on the profound transformation of the news business, richly documented and full of insight. It’s distressing that some apparent carelessness in attribution might overshadow her achievement.” Others were not as forgiving. 

Continue reading “Review: ‘Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and The Fight for Facts,’ by Jill Abramson”

Research panel to showcase top college media research

AEJMC convention set for Toronto

CMA scholars will present original research pertaining to college media at the 2019 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) convention in Toronto, Canada.

Kirstie Hettinga, Assistant Professor of Communication at California Lutheran University, and Alyssa Appelman, Assistant Professor of Communication at Northern Kentucky University, will present “ERRORS, REQUESTS, APOLOGIES: A case study of 50 years of corrections in a college newspaper.”

Robert Bergland, Professor of Journalism at Missouri Western State University, will present “Social Media Use of Award-Winning College Yearbooks.”

The Council of Affiliates and College Media Association sponsor this annual panel to showcase some of the top peer-reviewed scholarship on the topic. The panel will be moderated by CMA Research Chair Elizabeth R. Smith on Saturday, August 10 from 11 to 12:30 p.m.

Embracing change one sound byte at a time

Storytelling still at the heart of journalism

By Andrea Frantz
Buena Vista University

If I’ve learned anything in my 30 years of teaching journalism, it’s that change is hard, but inertia will be the death of any academic program.  What I teach today, at its heart, hasn’t changed a lot. Journalism has always been about great storytelling.  But it looks and sounds a lot different.

A 2018 Washington Postarticle by Christopher Daly, posits the seismic changes we have seen in the journalism field in the last couple of decades are not all dire.  According to Daly, “NPR is having a banner year, as are MSNBC and Fox News. The New York Times,The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are reporting record numbers of digital subscribers…Podcasting, which did not exist as a career five years ago, is exploding.”

In fact, it’s the podcast explosion that brings me to my own embrace of change.

Continue reading “Embracing change one sound byte at a time”

(Research Vol. 56) Posting, Tweeting, Instagraming

Examining the Social Media Linking College Media to ‘Home’

Carol Terracina-Hartman
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

Robert G. Nulph
Missouri Western State University

ABSTRACT: Successful college media programs, when judged against their peers, are located in academic departments with faculty-level advisors (Terracina-Hartman and Nulph 2013; Kopenhaver 2015). This study aims to examine communication practices and messages of universities and academic departments that promote these top college media outlets using social media tools. Which is preferred: Facebook or Instagram for celebrating an award? Does a university tag a student newspaper? Or does the department take the lead in announcing? Or does a college newspaper post its good news, tag its home institution, and then academic departments and colleges like, share, retweet, repost and tag? Perhaps the institution, department, and/or student media outlet chooses none of these, making them virtually invisible? The posts – whether celebratory, recruiting, spotlighting an alum, or introducing editors – enhance not only visibility for the college media program, but also produce a level of association between student media and their home institutions.

Scholars increasingly have documented dialogic principles of university systems with potential students in recent years, finding that first impressions persist, influencing the opinions of those applicants who later become first-year students throughout their years on campus (Aquilani and Lovari 2009; Gordon and Berhow 2009).  Additional research finds that much web communication targets donors, alums, and research-granting agencies before addressing student or potential student audiences (Hewitt and Forte 2009; Will and Callison 2006). Yet highlighting student achievement through the web can be a key mark of visibility for any student program and critical to department recruitment (Kent and Taylor 1998). Continue reading “(Research Vol. 56) Posting, Tweeting, Instagraming”

Free First Amendment workshop to educate community

‘Express Yourself’ is this year’s theme

By Mark Witherspoon
Special to CMR

Registration is now open for the First Amendment Workshop at Iowa State University from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 12.

This free workshop is designed for those interested in the First Amendment – students, teachers, advisers, media professionals and community activists – who want to create creative First Amendment activities in their communities. Sessions include a First Amendment refresher mini-course, discussion about current conflicts, an event planner how-to, a group brainstorm about ideas to educate others about the First Amendment and more.

Registration includes lunch, coffee breaks, a T-shirt and a First Amendment tool kit. Space is limited.

From April 8 to 12, the ISU campus will recognize each of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. The theme this year is “Express Yourself.”

Continue reading “Free First Amendment workshop to educate community”

Book review: Journalism under fire by Stephen Gillers

Protecting the Future of Investigative Reporting

Book by Stephen Gillers

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

For better or for worse, journalists became the story in 2018. In addition to being named as Time’s “Person of the Year,” journalists “taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths” were also honored by being called onto stage just before midnight to push the button that began the lowering of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball, ushering in 2019. “In one of the world’s most famous public squares, it is fitting to celebrate free press and free speech as we reflect on where we’ve been during the past year and what it is we value most as a society,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, the organizer of the New Year’s event.

Although Americans may no longer agree on much, we can probably all agree that 2018 was a difficult year for journalists, and not only because the phrases “enemy of the people” and “fake news” were bantered around so often that they no longer jarred us. (Remember the days when we were all able to agree upon whether a fact was true or false?) Head shaking and hand wringing aside, what can–and should–be done to protect present and future journalists? In “Journalism Under Fire: Protecting the Future of Investigative Reporting,” Stephen Gillers, the Elihu Root Professor of Law at New York University Law School, answers that question, offering provocative, if perhaps wistful, solutions.

Gillers begins with two premises. First, a free press is essential to American democracy. Second, because the First Amendment, legislation, and court opinions are the primary sources of press freedom, the meaning of freedom of the press must begin with what the law says. Based upon these assumptions, he examines the First Amendment’s Press Clause through the framers’ intended meaning, textual analysis, and an intricate and detailed survey of the preeminent press cases (New York Times v. Sullivan, Branzburg v. Hayes, Cohen v. Cowles Media, and all of the other cases we teach in our media law classes). He argues that, although the Supreme Court has in recent decades ignored the Press Clause, the clause nonetheless gives a distinct set of rights to the press that the Constitution does not give to all speakers. Those rights are not static, but must change and expand as new circumstances arise. The press, Professor Gillers argues, needs protection against liability for defamation and privacy invasion, for the right to protect confidential sources without risking jail, and for how it gathers news. Continue reading “Book review: Journalism under fire by Stephen Gillers”

CMANYC19 goes beyond ‘how to’ to ask ‘how do we’

College Journalists convene in New York

By Carol Terracina-Hartman
For College Media Review

The College Media Association conference in New York City — #CMANYC19 — offers standard broad range of workshops, on-site publication critiques with a professional for student staffs, and tours of professional media outlets beginning March 6.

And this year’s lineup of speakers is anything but standard, reaching beyond the “how to” of news production to ask, “how do we”?

Recruiting top editors from Vice, #CMANYC19 gives college media students a chance for a — not just to attend a lecture. Chat with Vice’s master brand Executive Editor Dory Carr-Harris: What is her vision for Vice? What are the struggles? and accomplishments?

Vice.com is arguably one of the greatest successes of new media: How do the editors target their audience? How do writers build credibility? How does new media grab old readers?

Managing Editor Rachel Shallom heads up the biweekly newsletter, The Cohort, focusing on women in digital leadership. She also curates a newsletter featuring news and moves in digital journalism.

Continue reading “CMANYC19 goes beyond ‘how to’ to ask ‘how do we’”

Undergrads to compete for new research award

‘Research in Action’ at CMA’s New York Conference

The College Media Association will host its first annual undergraduate research panel at the CMA Spring Convention in New York this year. “Research in Action” will feature students from three universities who will present their works and compete for CMA’s first Apple Award in Undergraduate Research.

Cheyenne Mathews, from University of Alaska Anchorage, will present “Media Literacy Education in Alaskan Schools: A Content Analysis of Alaskan School Districts’ Curriculum.” This content analysis examines media literacy instruction and the role of journalism offerings in the largest Alaskan school districts.

Brandon Liemer, from Florida Atlantic University, will speak on “The Podcast Era: Emerging New Media to Enhance Academia.” His study explores the use of podcasts as a new, emerging and contemporary form of media. He employs survey research to examine student interest in podcasting and the possibility of including it in communication curricula.

Valerie Miller and Henry Tasker are from Virginia Wesleyan University. They will co-present “Digital Deception: Examining Source Credibility and Native Advertising in Online News Editorials.” This experiment assesses college students’ ability to identify native advertising and corresponding media literacy and source credibility levels.

The session, at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 7, in Marquis B of the New York Marriott Marquis, will include Kelly Messinger from Capital University as the panel moderator. Elizabeth Smith from Pepperdine University will serve as the discussant.