Prevention of college media adviser firings

No foolproof methods, but steps, resources to consider

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series.

By Jody Kleinberg Biehl
University at Buffalo


The recent firings of three college newspaper advisers are a sobering reminder of how fragile newspaper advising jobs can be. Often advisers are not tenured faculty, but have renewable yearly contracts that can be denied at the whim of administrators unhappy about student coverage.

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Illustration: William F. Yurasko via Creative Commons

This, said, Chris Evans, CMA adviser advocate chair, makes advisers vulnerable. Some – like recently fired Cheryl Reed of Northern Michigan — have come to believe that untenured faculty should not take advising jobs because it puts them too much at risk. Evans himself, said his job at the University of Vermont is on a contract basis, but he regularly takes steps to protect himself.

What are some of those steps? What can advisers who want to push their students to be tough journalists, but who also want to make sure they keep their jobs do? Continue reading

Advisers under fire (and fired)

Advisers, students fighting spate of adviser firings in six months

Illustration by Sean MacEntee via Creative Commons

Illustration by Sean MacEntee via Creative Commons

Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts. The next story will focus on strategies for developing campus educational initiatives in support of First Amendment and student voices.

By Jody Kleinberg Biehl
University at Buffalo


Three college media advisers been fired in the past six months – a spate Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, calls “one of the worst stretches I can remember.”

Cheryl Reed from Northern Michigan University, James Compton of Muscatine Community College in Iowa, and Patricia Roberts of Delta State University in Mississippi, have all lost positions as student media advisers since November.

And all of them – along with their students — are fighting back. Continue reading

Redesign one way to leave mark on media

Guided questions focus on orderly process

(Editor’s note: A few years ago they were running college newsrooms. As they begin their careers, college media alums now in the profession reflect on their collegiate experiences in this periodic series.)


By Shasta Langenbacher
Special to College Media Review

Every group of students wants to put its own mark on the campus paper. For my tenure as a student managing editor, our team’s mark was updating the paper completely.

Illustration: Creative Commons, Joan M. Has

Illustration: Creative Commons, Joan M. Has

With recent technological advances, students have turned to making a splash on Twitter or getting a story to go viral. But without a graphically appealing paper, it’s even less likely anyone will pick up a paper and stay in tune if it’s nothing but a gray mass splattered on a broadsheet, disconnected from any references to the digital world. Keeping your printed copy visually up to date is vital for securing advertising, as it lets companies know you’re serious about your commitment to all forms of journalism, not just reacting to the next trend in your content and design.

With Internet encroaching on printed pieces of newspaper journalism, it’s more important than ever to incorporate interesting tidbits to accompany a story, whether it’s a teaser to a YouTube page, or to add a tagline to advertise a reporter’s Twitter feed to answer questions on a story. Readers are multi-platform today, and if a student reporter does not learn to design for this now, they will be doomed in the industry. Continue reading

Key questions for developing social media policy

Who are our readers and when are they most active on social media?

(Editor’s note: A few years ago they were running college newsrooms. As they begin their careers, college media alums now in the profession reflect on their collegiate experiences in this periodic series.)

By Kate Jacobson
Special to College Media Review


Six years ago, media companies were not that concerned about social media. Twitter was just catching on and Facebook was evolving from college kids sharing pictures to a vehicle for information.

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Illustration: Creative Commons, Nick Booth

Almost all media companies big and small have tried to find their own niche in the social media world. Large news organizations have dedicated employees to monitor and craft the company’s social media message, while others have had to improvise.

Back in 2011, I was the editor of The State News at Michigan State University. We were a college newspaper trying to find our place in the world of social media. When we were looking for better ways to reach our audience, we asked ourselves: How can we uniform our social media efforts and maximize the amount of people we reached? Continue reading

Colleagues, students, others salute the late Bonnie Thrasher

Adviser was veteran of 22 years at Arkansas State

By Debra Chandler Landis
Editor, CMR

The tributes to the late Bonnie Thrasher continued to flow. Colleagues posted on the College Media Association listserv. Thrasher’s students at Arkansas State University, where she taught and advised The Herald for 22 years, produced a special edition in her honor. A journalism graduate of Arkansas State praised Thrasher’s tough-minded journalistic ways but also fondly called her a fellow “cat lady,” referring to the numerous felines Thrasher rescued over the years.

BonneThrasherThrasher, vice president of the CMA who also held positions of CMA secretary and treasurer, was active in several professional journalism organizations. She died in her sleep at home on March 31, with the Arkansas State University College of Media and Communication posting on its Facebook page: “We are saddened to announce the passing of our beloved faculty member, colleague, mentor and friend Ms. Bonnie Thrasher. Kind words and positive thoughts to her family, friends and students in this difficult time.”
Between news of Thrasher’s death and an ensuing memorial service , CMA members, writing on the CMA listserv, painted a portrait with their words of a smart, dedicated, and witty colleague known as much for her dedication to journalism as for being a role model with straightforward talk accented by a lovely Southern accent.

Continue reading

Bonnie Thrasher, 1961-2015: CMA vice president

A-STATE HERALD PUBLISHES TRIBUTES FROM STUDENTS, COLLEAGUES

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Students of the Arkansas State Herald celebrated the life and times of their adviser, Bonnie Thrasher, who died last week. CLICK ABOVE for link to special edition.

College Media Association Vice President Bonnie Thrasher, 53, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, died March 31, 2015 at her home.

Born July 7, 1961 in St. Charles, Missouri to Bill and Beverly Thrasher, Bonnie resided the last 22 years in Jonesboro after spending time in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Starkville, Mississippi where she attended college and graduate school. She was of the Baptist belief.

A-StateHerald_ThrasherShe was a member of the Arkansas State Media Board and adviser to the A State HeraldShe served the national College Media Association in numerous volunteer positions, as secretary, treasurer and as Vice President at the time of her death.  Continue reading

Great visuals are all part of a plan…

Here’s a Baker’s Dozen ways to get and improve your visual content

By Robert G. Nulph


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Creative Commons: hunnnterr

A student sits in front of her editing set-up. On one side of her desk is a sandwich piled so high it would make Jared proud; at her feet sits a 44-ounce big drink guaranteed to quench her thirst; and on the other side, sits a rainbow of SD cards.

Now, this could be a great dream, or the true definition of hell. It all depends on the work she does before she enters the field as well as during a shoot.

When instructing students in a practicum or lab setting, it’s hard to convince them to plan. They just want to jump in and presume they will land well, the heck with planning ahead! And for the first assignment, it’s tempting to let them run out the classroom door without planning and seeing how they land in that editing bay later (“miserable!”), learning a hard lesson about not planning. Such a lesson is similar to teaching News Writing students who don’t do their research in advance of their interviews. Continue reading

Boldly going where no social media has gone before

The Media ‘New Kid on the Block’ is still evolving

By Kelly Johnson


art-cables-ken-fager

Creative Commons: Ken Fager

Over the last five years, journalists and their media outlets have been traversing the social media frontier, experimenting sometimes with abandon, eager to find or afraid to miss the latest helpful tool for bolstering news delivery, revenue and audience engagement and expansion.

Certainly, some uses of some social media platforms are paying off. Facebook and Twitter have become the standard, obligatory social media platforms, with Twitter key for distributing and teasing news and Facebook for developing and maintaining relationships with and engaging audiences. That’s where most outlets attract the most views.  Continue reading

Research Annual released for 2013-14

College media research the focus of Vol. 51


By Bob Bergland
Missouri Western State University


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CLICK HERE to download

Welcome to the second College Media Review Research Annual. Although College Media Review remains in an online format, we once again are compiling all of the year’s research into an annual publication, in PDF form and also available in hard copy as a print-on-demand book.

The continued presence of the Research Annual is critical in three main ways. First and foremost, it serves as a vehicle for disseminating key research about the field. This research answers many questions both new and experienced advisers have about how college media operates outside of their campuses. Those who follow the CMA listserv know that it is peppered with questions from advisers about issues such as editor pay, content, advertising and ethics. As with last year’s edition, this Research Annual is able to answer some of those questions, providing hard data for editors, advisers and deans, going beyond just anecdotal examples. Second, this journal also provides a publication outlet for CMA members. While a few other journals have published some studies about college media, there is no friendlier home for such research than College Media Review, and no place that encourages such diverse methodologies. Having this Annual be available in print form also helps scholars who are at institutions stuck in the 20th Century who are not as accepting of online journals for promotion and tenure consideration, even if those articles are peer-reviewed. Finally, the continued existence of College Media Review and \ the Research Annual and CMA in general (the Nordin Award for research, the CMA conventions and the CMA slot at the AEJMC convention) help promote future research—sort of a “if you build it, they will come” approach, except, of course, that College Media Review has been around for more than half a century. Hopefully that future research will answer more questions posed on the listserv and elsewhere. Continue reading

Research (Vol. 51): Digital Ethics in an age of instantaneous publication

Students more tolerant of digital photo manipulation of graphic, spot news images in college media

By Bradley Wilson, Ph.D.
Midwestern State University


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Bradley Wilson, Managing Editor College Media Review

Introduction — At two national college media conventions, advisers filled the room to talk about policy development, policies ranging from when to refuse advertising to how readers can submit letters to the editor to what types of manipulation can be done to photojournalistic images and when. The advisers in each of the sessions were not the only ones indicating they wanted help developing some or better policies for such situations. Indeed, only 17 percent of respondents — and only 20 percent of college media advisers — to the survey at the foundation of this research indicated they had any policies regarding the digital manipulation of such images, a clear indication that there is room for the development of guidelines and sample policies for colleges and universities to use as a starting point. The results of this survey showed students were much more tolerant of significant digital manipulation than either advisers or professionals demonstrating need for training, discussion and clear wording of ethical principles and guidelines. Whether dealing with basic photojournalistic ethics or digital ethics, both photographs from the 2013 Boston Marathon and the abundance of prior literature provide a specific case study for discussion.

Continue reading