College media adapt to online only formats

Adjustments from COVID-19 may mark permanent changes for student newspapers

By Angel Trinh

While universities across the country have suspended in-person classes to limit the spread of COVID-19, the future for student newspapers remains unknown because being online-only until physical classes resume could create long-term changes.

More than 600 universities responded to a survey conducted by the American Association for Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers to gauge the changes institutions are making or considering in response to COVID-19. According to the press release published April 2, 81% of institutions have moved completely online for the rest of the spring term. Of the universities that have moved online, 23% have decided to keep classes online for the summer and 38% are considering doing so.

Student publications have had to quickly adapt to producing web-only content, and some may not return to printing once classes begin again.

College Media Association Treasurer Steven Chappell said the number of student newspapers that decide to move online-only increases each fall, and he thinks he’ll see a larger number make that decision this year than any previous.

Continue reading “College media adapt to online only formats”

Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald J. Trump: Reimagining the Town Square

Public officials cannot block naysayers from social media

By Carolyn Schurr Levin

The campus quad is a place where students, professors, administrators, staff, and visitors talk, walk, congregate, share ideas, play catch, hawk college newspapers, and so much more. It is a space that has traditionally been open and accessible, with few limitations, not only at public universities, but also at private colleges. In many respects, it is similar to a traditional town square, the open space in the heart of a town where people gather, share thoughts and are entertained.

Because they are open to all, town squares are, by law, considered to be traditional public forums which are given the highest level of First Amendment protection. They are public places that have by long tradition been devoted to speech and assembly. The government has a difficult time limiting speech in such spaces.

A public forum has traditionally been a physical place. But, in the 21st century, we interact in new digital types of public squares. On Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, we meet virtually, instead of in person, to share and debate ideas. Although we don’t throw a Frisbee disc as we do on the campus quad, we toss out our opinions to our virtual communities. What happens then, if public officials try to limit us from access to that online space because they don’t like our opinions? Can they do that? Or is that similar to telling a student that he can’t express his ideas to his friends while traversing the campus quad? Continue reading “Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald J. Trump: Reimagining the Town Square”

The Big Story: Uncharted territory

Pepperdine group
Students at the March 12 impromptu banquet, one-day after university officials announced they were moving to remote classes for the remainder of the semester.

College newsrooms shift focus amid coronavirus pandemic concerns

By Elizabeth Smith and Courtenay Stallings
Pepperdine University

“This is big.” That was the reaction of Graphic News Editor James Moore when Pepperdine University announced seven weeks ago the suspension of its international program in Shanghai, China, as COVID-19 spread across Asia. Over the next six weeks, as the virus spread across the world, the university eventually suspended all seven of its international programs and closed the Malibu campus, moving to all-remote instruction. James was right— it was big.

Over the past few weeks, university presidents have announced campus closures in rapid succession. While these closures pose unprecedented challenges for classrooms and campuses, they are uncharted territory for student newsrooms, too.

Continue reading “The Big Story: Uncharted territory”

Book Review: ‘The First Amendment in the Trump Era,’ by Timothy Zick

Unique time in First Amendment orthodoxy

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

Watching and listening to Donald Trump both at his rallies during the 2016 presidential campaign and then after he became President, Timothy Zick, the John Marshall Professor of Government and Citizenship at William & Mary School of Law, felt that he wanted to chronicle the onslaught of attacks on the First Amendment that he was hearing. Although previous presidents had certainly had terrible relationships with the press, the assaults on journalists as “enemies of the people,” denying reporters access to press briefings because of negative coverage, blocking critics on Twitter, vowing to “take a look at the libel laws,” suggesting that flag burners be jailed, the war on truth, and so much more, felt decidedly different to Zick. He was observing systematic efforts “to undermine the press’ credibility and to turn the public against the media.” And, so Professor Zick set out to chronicle those First Amendment assaults. The result is his recently published, comprehensive and highly readable new book, “The First Amendment in the Trump Era.”

Lest you have tuned out the noise, the book is highly critical of the Trump administration’s approach to the First Amendment. No matter what side of the political spectrum on which you fall, though, this book can truly educate you about this unique time in First Amendment orthodoxy.

Unlike Professor Zick’s three previous books, which primarily targeted an academic audience, this book is pitched to “a wider audience and a broader discourse” about its subject matter. Not only is it intended for those interested in the attacks on freedom of the press in the last several years, but also for those who want to learn more about the history and social benefits of dissent in the United States. Indeed, I found the chapter dedicated to dissent to be the most enlightening.  There are “many serious challenges to protecting dissent and maintaining a culture of dissent” now, Professor Zick writes, and “we need to have a plan of attack to deal with [President Trump’s] anti-dissent agenda and to preserve a culture of dissent moving forward.” Democracy thrives “when there is noise and disagreement, not conformity and consensus,” Zick says, arguing for the “active facilitation and encouragement” of the tolerance for dissent. Rather than feeling compelled to “choose sides,” people “must feel free to speak out” without being labeled “disloyal enemies.” Continue reading “Book Review: ‘The First Amendment in the Trump Era,’ by Timothy Zick”

Book Review: ‘The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, The FBI, The Media, And Richard Jewell,’ by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen

Jewell ‘Caught In The Middle’

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

Journalists sometimes get it wrong. When they do, there are clarifications and corrections, new or revised newsroom policies, and a lot of hand wringing. There may also be lawsuits. That was the case when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) named security guard Richard Jewell as the suspect who placed the bomb in Centennial Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Many other news outlets followed the AJC in naming Jewell as “the suspect.” Jewell was not, in fact, the perpetrator of the crime. But the FBI had identified him as a suspect, and the media willingly and enthusiastically picked up on the storyline. After being cleared of any wrongdoing, Jewell sued the media outlets, settling with some (NBC paid $595,000, CNN paid $350,000) and engaging in protracted litigation with others, including a 15-year court battle with the AJC.

For many years, I have used Richard Jewell’s prodigious litigation to teach about republication liability in libel cases (one who repeats a defamatory falsehood can be held liable to the same extent as the original speaker). In doing so, though, I did not address, or in fact think much about, the human impact of the error – on the wrongfully named individual, on the journalists, or on the source. In “The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle,” authors Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen provide a powerful, in-depth and highly personal account of what happens to a human being when the FBI and subsequently the news media erroneously name him as a suspect in a high profile crime. As Salwen said during a recent phone interview, “whether you are in the FBI, or the media, or the news consuming public,” this book reminds you that “there is a human being on the other side.” Continue reading “Book Review: ‘The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, The FBI, The Media, And Richard Jewell,’ by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen”

Legal analysis: Sarah Palin v. The New York Times Company

A compelling lesson in libel law

By Carolyn Schurr Levin

Sarah Palin’s libel lawsuit against The New York Times is not a new case. It was initially filed on June 26, 2017. But, as the case continues to wind its way through the courts, it offers a compelling lesson in libel law.

Here’s what it’s all about: In 2010, former Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, published an online map with crosshairs over congressional districts of some Democrats, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. In January 2011, a gunman opened fire at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and wounding 13, including Giffords. The gunman who shot Giffords pled guilty; there was no evidence that he had seen the SarahPAC map. Several years later, another U.S. Representative was injured when a gunman fired at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia. The night of that attack, which injured U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, the New York Times published an editorial on its website titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” tying the two shootings to the SarahPAC map. The June 14, 2017 New York Times editorial asked:

“Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah

Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. Continue reading “Legal analysis: Sarah Palin v. The New York Times Company”

Same ol’ problems with student’s video?

Student and freelance photographers taking close-ups of the bands at Picnic in the Park in Oslo, Norway.

Learning the craft, speaking the language of video production

By Paul Glover
Henderson State University


  • “Did you use a tripod?”
  • “Did you use a microphone?”
  • “What format is the video in?”

Do these questions sound familiar?

One older definition of convergence refers to a “combination of technologies, products, staffs and geography among the previously distinct provinces of print, television and online media” (Singer, 2004). The idea of newsroom convergence forces many university programs to combine resources in order to develop student reporters into backpack journalists, Multimedia-Skilled Journalists (MSJ) or simply Multimedia Journalists (MMJ).

Whether print or broadcast, students and recent graduates entering their college internship or first real-world job are very often assigned the task of writer, videographer, audio engineer and video editor. Competency in all these skills is required and expected. This article will focus on essential skills for student journalists who are asked to produce videos for television, websites and social media and how students can best develop these skills. Continue reading “Same ol’ problems with student’s video?”

Preview: ACP and CMA annual Fall National College Media Convention

Come to DC: It’s More than the First Amendment

Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2019 • Grand Hyatt • Washington, D.C. • #collegemedia19

By Carol Terracina Hartman

In partnership with Associated Collegiate Press, College Media Association returns to Washington, D.C. for its annual fall convention this year. Speaker highlights include a slate of keynote speakers: Capital Gazette Editor Rick Hutzell, accompanied by Gazette reporters Danielle Ohl and Alex Mann.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE CONVENTION INFO

Attendees also will welcome Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron of “Spotlight” Fame, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, and CNN’s Abby Phillip.

Convention offerings this year – 275 of them! – include career workshops, tech tips, media management and skills-oriented sessions such as photojournalism and design. Whether digging into data is your gig or jazzing up entertainment reviews is your goal, find it in the conference schedule.

Continue reading “Preview: ACP and CMA annual Fall National College Media Convention”

Graphic approach for introducing journalism to students not farfetched at all

Book Review: A NewsHound’s Guide To Student Journalism, by Katina Paron and Javier Guelfi

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

Using a comic book to teach basic journalism principles may initially seem like an unusual, albeit original, idea, but, after  reading “A NewsHound’s Guide To Student Journalism,” the idea does not seem farfetched at all. In fact, you won’t be able to put it down. And, while enjoying the comics, perhaps even without knowing it, you will simultaneously be learning so many important journalism concepts and principles.

Written by Katina Paron, who has worked in different capacities as a student journalism educator, and illustrated by Javier Guelfi, a cartoonist, illustrator and graphic designer, the book is clever and engaging. Although the book is not brand new – it was released in October 2018 – it is worth taking a look at, if you haven’t already done so.

The book includes content routinely included in other basic reporting books, such as interviewing tips, understanding and avoiding conflicts of interest, and using data in news stories. What makes it unique, though, are the comic strip vignettes that introduce each chapter and topic. To begin the chapter on “Deep Throat: Digging into Investigative Journalism,” readers meet Joe Kubble, a high school freshman who “was born to be a reporter.” In each subsequent chapter’s comic, Kubble navigates the perils and pitfalls of journalism, from the importance of verification to crowdsourcing through social media. In doing so, he learns, and teaches us, basic lessons in how to write a lead, how to localize news, and how to stay out of trouble. Continue reading “Graphic approach for introducing journalism to students not farfetched at all”

Legal analysis: Audible captions leads to copyright infringement suit

Where technology and copyright collide

By Carolyn Schurr Levin

There is nothing simple about copyright. The law is complex, with so many nuances. In this first CMR legal column, we analyze a pending copyright dispute involving newly developed technology in an effort to assist students and advisers as similar issues arise.

Audible, the Amazon.com audiobook company that bills itself as “the world’s largest seller and producer of audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment,” introduced a new feature in July 2019 that displays the text of a book while it is read. The feature, called Audible Captions, allows listeners “to follow along with a few lines of machine-generated text as they listen to the audio performance,” according to Audible’s website. “We developed this technology,” Audible’s website states, “because we believe our culture, particularly in under-resourced environments, is at risk of losing a significant portion of the next generation of book readers. We have heard from so many teachers and educators that they want to find new ways to improve literacy rates and inspire students to pick up a book and read.”

LEGAL ANALYSIS: In this new column, we will choose a recently filed lawsuit against the media and analyze the claims being made, the arguments against those claims, and the implications for college media organizations. --Editor

Book publishing companies, however, were less than pleased with the announcement about the launch of Audible Captions. On August 23, 2019, seven publishers—Chronicle Books, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers Macmillan Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster—filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Audible alleging that Audible Captions infringes the copyrights in their books. The publishers are seeking a court order to stop the launch of Audible Captions, as well as collecting an award of monetary damages for the alleged infringement Continue reading “Legal analysis: Audible captions leads to copyright infringement suit”