Student journalists tackle national campaign coverage

Reporting stories for national, regional and college media

While voters trek to the polls in New Hampshire today, college media advisers from Missouri and Oklahoma reflect on the efforts of students in covering last week’s Iowa caucuses.


The Caucus Coverage Crew from Northwest Missouri State (Via Twitter at #NWPolitics)

Northwest Missouri State University students, Steven Chappell go to Iowa

Steven Chappell, director of student publications and multimedia instructor at Northwest Missouri State University, and his political journalism class saw the Iowa caucuses up close and personal—as in covering and producing stories for the campus media at Northwest Missouri, located in Maryville.

A university grant helped cover transportation, lodging and other expenses, he said.

To see the students’ work, here are links Chappell provided:

Oklahoma students cover Iowa caucuses

The University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication sent 14 students to cover the Iowa caucuses, according to John Schmeltzer, professor and Engleman/Livermore chair in Community Journalism.

“They were there from Jan. 17 and returned to campus on Feb. 2. All the stories have revolved around the millennial involvement in this year’s election,” Schmeltzer said in an e-mail.

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Review: ‘Dynamics of Media Writing: Adapt and Connect’

Book finds common ground among writing styles for print, web, promotions, advertising and marketing

By Lindsey Wotanis
Marywood University

Anyone who has taught a required basic news writing and reporting course that serves as a core requirement for all communication majors—from journalism students to those in public relations, advertising, marketing, or even film—has likely heard the familiar groan, which is usually followed by a question like:

dynamics of media writing“Why do I need to take a news writing course if I’m studying for a career in marketing?”

The answer: Because in order to work well with others and achieve specific writing goals, media professionals need to understand the style and mission of their colleagues’ writing goals.

Beginning students often just don’t get it, but media writing teachers like Vince Filak do. Filak must have been sick of explaining this notion to students—and sick of hearing his colleagues groan about all the groaning—because he’s just published a new textbook called “Dynamics of Media Writing: Adapt and Connect” from CQ Press which is likely to help alleviate the frustration.

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Ron Spielberger was ‘Mr. CMA’

Colleagues praise former director’s contributions to college media and the CMA

From CMR staff reports

Ron_SpeilbergerRon Spielberger — called “Mr. CMA” by many admirers — has died, the College Media Association announced today.


Click to open link with Memorial Park Funeral Home

“We are heartbroken to hear of Ron’s passing,” Kelley Lash, CMA president, said. “Ron was the consummate gentleman, a kind soul and a wealth of information, advice and support.”

Spielberger served as CMA’s executive director for almost three decades, 1982-2011, CMA’s longest serving executive director.


Ron Spielberger, a prolific contributor to CMR, was the cover choice as he capped nearly three decades of service to CMA. Click for link to 2011 tribute article. (Photo: Bill Neville)

Spielberger was a frequent contributor to College Media Review, often contributing research articles that were the results of a long time collaboration with former CMA President Lillian Kopenhaver as they gathered information and explored the impact of college media programs nationwide.

“Serving CMA as executive director for nearly three decades, Ron was the face of CMA for many, working behind the scenes to make sure the spotlight was focused on issues of importance and on the work of others,” said CMR Webmaster Bill Neville, former CMA treasurer. “He seemed to treat CMA like family, knowing families squabble at times but still pull together for the good of all.”

In the executive director position, he coordinated numerous fall and spring conventions, summer workshops and other association events. After leaving the position, he continued to serve CMA by chairing the Hall of Fame committee, serving on the advisory council and presenting sessions.

Spielberger with CMA President Kelley Lash

Spielberger with CMA President Kelley Lash

“If you asked Ron Spielberger what his job was with College Media Association, he’d smile and say, ‘I’m in the making people happy business,'” Neville added. “Ron made it look easy. Juggling the needs of members, convention management, and innumerable behind the scenes details often taken for granted, while remembering that our members are advocates for the student journalists we serve. Ron did what he set out to do — he made people happy.”

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A remembrance: Patricia Roberts

Elisabetta Zengaro and Patricia Roberts. (Photo: Matteo Zengaro)

Elisabetta Zengaro and Patricia Roberts. (Photo: Matteo Zengaro)

Delta State’s adviser loses battle with cancer

 By Elisabetta Zengaro and Debra Chandler Landis
Special to College Media Review

While the late Patricia Roberts battled ovarian cancer, she also fought for college journalism at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.

She did both with grit and grace, and her journalistic legacy continues, say those who knew her.

Roberts, 66, adviser to The Delta Statement student newspaper and the university’s sole journalism professor, died Dec. 7 from complications from chemotherapy. A memorial service was held at the Bishop-King Funeral Home in Lake Village, Arkansas, on Dec. 11.

In spring 2015, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved the discontinuation of five academic programs, including journalism, communications/theater studies, and modern foreign languages, at Delta State University.

The university also decided to eliminate money for printing of The Delta Statement.

Roberts told the Student Press Law Center, Huffington Post and other media organizations the plan to eliminate the journalism program was announced after a Statement story about a lawsuit a former Division of Languages and Literature chairman filed against Bill LaForge, Delta State University president. However, LaForge denied the move was retaliatory, and said the $1 million budget cuts were university-wide.

Throughout it all, Roberts never lost hope. Continue reading

CMR Extra — Quick Links

CMR_arrow26_RotateA multitude of educative, thought-provoking posts, blogs and stories have emerged in the wake of the incidents this week at the University of Missouri that resulted in the resignation of top administrators and a vigorous debate on the First Amendment  The insights can aid college and professional media looking to hire more diverse staffs and considering ways to improve news coverage. The New York Times collected varying view points in this discussion.

From the Washington Post:

“Mass media professor under fire for confronting video journalist at Mizzou” at

“There’s a good reason protesters at the University of Missouri didn’t want the media around” at

From the Columbia Journalism Review:

“Why journalists have the right to cover the University of Missouri protests,”

From the New York Times:

A Lesson in Journalism at the University of Missouri

From the Los Angeles Times:

 University of Missouri names black administrator with civil rights background as interim president

Research (Vol. 53): Convergent media on campus

A study of campus media organizations’ convergence practices

 By Lindsey Wotanis, Ph.D.,
Janice Richardson, B.A.,
and Bowei Zhong, B.A.
Marywood University

Convergence polychrome (cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine)

Convergence polychrome (cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine) by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via Flickr Creative Commons

Abstract: Scholars disagree on how to define “media convergence,” but in the past 15 years, literature suggests many newsrooms have shifted toward convergence, and they’re looking to hire journalists who understand it. Many university journalism programs have updated their curricula to emphasize convergence. However, students often learn journalism best by practicing it at campus newspapers, television and radio stations, or on web platforms. This paper asks: Are college media organizations practicing convergence? Researchers surveyed 142 campus media advisers to learn about convergence practices in campus newsrooms. Findings show that while half of advisers report their campus media organizations are practicing convergence, most are only practicing cross-platform publishing. Findings also suggest a correlation between campuses reporting converged media organizations and those reporting convergence-focused curricula.

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The nuts and bolts (and more) of redesign in a collegiate setting

“Redesign. The mere word can strike fear into a veteran adviser.”

By Ron Johnson
Indiana University

The adviser to The Maroon, said he was looking to give the newspaper a boost.

Michael Giusti, Student Media Adviser at Loyola University New Orleans, said the newspaper had a strong tradition, but it was time for an upgrade.

Before the redesign: "Crackdown on alcohol," The Maroon, Loyola University, Feb. 21, 2014.

Before the redesign: “Crackdown on alcohol,” The Maroon, Loyola University, Feb. 21, 2014.

After the redesign: "Smoke signals," The Maroon, Loyola University, May 2, 2014.

After the redesign: “Smoke signals,” The Maroon, Loyola University, May 2, 2014.

“We have traditionally done well in many areas — ones that I am personally strong in as a professional journalist — writing, editing, story selection,” Giusti said.

“But we were missing the whole package. We found that people didn’t tend to consume that great coverage because they weren’t drawn to it.”

Design was the piece that would pull it all together, Giusti said. “But I wasn’t the guy to lead it. I joke that when it comes to design, I am a technician, not an artist.”

Well, I’m no artist, either, but I signed on to help the folks at The Maroon in spring 2014. From advising my own newspaper staffs at three universities of different sizes, I knew the potential. I also I knew the pitfalls. Continue reading

CMR Extra — Quick Links

CMR_arrow26_RotateThe Plot Against Student Newspapers? David R. Wheeler, University of Tampa, published a piece in The Atlantic on how college media organizations always seem to be targets of the ire of officialdom. At many colleges, budding journalists and their advisers are still fighting for freedom of speech.

Crossing boundaries: A journalist chronicles her friendship with a serial killer – Columbia Journalism Review. Vew it here

The critical moment. How a reporter captured the moment a fifth grader found out she was HIV positive – Columbia Journalism Review. You can view it here

Why aren’t there more minority journalists? Columbia Journalism Review pece examines diversity in the journalism classroom and  transition into the workforce.

Tres años y contando: The evolution of a bilingual student newspaper on a rural campus

Campus journalism that serves a bilingual audience heads into third year

By Marcy Burstiner
Humboldt State University

When I came up with the idea for El Leñador, a Spanish-English student newspaper, at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, I hadn’t spoken Spanish since high school.


Bilingual press serves students at Humboldt State

Moreover, I taught on a campus with one of the least diverse student populations in the California State University System, and my idea came at a time when The Lumberjack, the student-run weekly newspaper I advised, was struggling for advertising revenue. And, the university was looking for programs to eliminate to make up for state budget cuts.

But there were reasons to proceed with this new publication. Among them: The university had been named a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a designation that would make it eligible for new funds, and the Latino student population had doubled as a percentage of the overall student population between 2009 and 2013. At 28 percent, it was now about three times the percentage found in the rest of the county. Humboldt State’s enrollment is about 8,485.

I hoped that for a newspaper for and about the Latino student population, the administration would help me find the money I needed. I teamed up with Dr. Rosamel Benavides-Garb, the chair of the World Languages and Cultures Department, who taught Spanish. We tapped into a fund our dean had for faculty-student research projects and secured small stipends for six students from our two majors to research models for bilingual newspapers.

El Lenador, a monthly that averages six pages, is in its third year. Student Juan Carlos Salazar, a member of the initial research team who directed translation for the first two years, said the mission was daunting at first. Continue reading

CMR Extra — Quick Links

Recommendations fromCMR_arrow26_Rotate CMR’s editor….


Few jobs can be more challenging — or more rewarding — than that of the student media adviser. Walking the tightrope between preparing courageous student journalists and satisfying wary school administrators is seldom easy. The guides below can help advisers navigate those challenges.

SPLC tip sheet for student media advisers

A guide to fighting (and surviving) censorship (Published 08/26/14). Read more

Student media advisers and the law

A legal help guide for surviving what is often the toughest job in a college environment. (Published 09/10/02). Read more.