By Debra Chandler Landis
Managing Editor, College Media Review
Student Publications Adviser, University of Illinois Springfield
Florida A&M University officials insist they weren’t censoring student journalists when they postponed publication of The Famuan for two weeks the month of January 2013 and required student editors who thought they had jobs for spring semester to reapply.
The decision to take these actions, university officials told the College Media Review and other media and media law organizations, stemmed from a libel suit filed in December 2012 against The Famuan and the university. The suit, brought by Keon Harris, says, in part, that the student newspaper wrongly reported that he had been suspended from Florida A&M because of his involvement with the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. Continue reading Florida A&M officials announce new adviser for spring semester 2013, say they didn’t censor
The College Media Review’s Debra Landis asked Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, to weigh in on censorship and libel in the wake of a series of actions by Florida A&M in January involving the student newspaper, The Famuan. Among other things, the university temporarily halted publication, required editors who thought they had jobs for spring 2013 to reapply for their jobs, removed the editor-in-chief who had served in the top position fall semester 2012 and hired another student instead.
By Andrea Breemer Frantz, Ph.D. and Lindsey Wotanis, Ph.D.
In his book Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local, Jock Lauterer notes, “Few institutions of higher education offer classes called ‘Community Journalism.’”
This is especially true for the small journalism programs struggling to offer comprehensive curricula with too few hands and too many demands from an industry in mid-reboot.
Thus, according to Lauterer, journalism school graduates are “largely untrained and totally unprepared” for what they will likely face in their first jobs.
But as he and others have suggested, it comes down to this: It’s the story, stupid. And in that concept of “story” we also know it’s about reporters immersing in community to see its issues and experiences through the lens of those who live them.
The challenge lies in helping students, who are inherently transient, to define themselves as part of a community, even if temporarily. Through a study abroad opportunity in Ireland, American journalism students did just that: immersing themselves in local Irish culture to report for a village’s annual publication.
Media phenomenon is both misunderstood and under theorized
By Holly-Katharine Johnson, M.F.A.
Professor of English and New Media
Mercer County Community College
Abstract: How does the viral media phenomenon add complexities to the obligations of student journalism and what demands does it place on student reporters and on college media advisers? To get at that question we must first establish a working definition of “viral article” as applied to online content, and then try to understand what kinds of articles go viral and why. Case studies will point up the benefits and the problematic outcomes of viral student reporting, allowing for a detailed analysis of the strategies college media advisers can use to assist students in anticipating and handling viral content.
“There is always an innate human urge to put something out there and see what people are going to make of it. We are doing exactly the same thing as the guys who were painting on caves.”
Surviving Sandy, other storms and a flood–and getting the college paper out
By Carolyn Schurr Levin
One of the most important, albeit seemingly routine, tasks of a college newspaper staff is the physical act of getting the newspaper out.
But what happens when a crisis hits, as it did when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, only to be followed the following week by a nor’easter?
Among the college newspapers hit by Hurricane Sandy were the Pioneer, the weekly student newspaper at Long Island University Post in Brookville, N.Y., and the College Voice at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey. The College Voice publishes every three weeks.
In anticipation of the forecasted strong winds and hurricane conditions, Long Island University Post cancelled all classes on Monday, Oct. 29. Administrators encouraged students who could to evacuate the dormitories and return home. Approximately 600 students remained in the dorms during the storm.
From professional reporters and editors to professional advisers: Veteran advisers share their stories
By Alexa Capeloto John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY
Jake Lowary says he loves advising The All State student newspaper and Monocle yearbook at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. But he recalls “a definite learning curve” moving from professional newspaper reporter to college media adviser nearly two years ago.
The curve can feel steep when reporters and editors become advisers.
On one hand, working with college media can feel like a natural extension of a journalism career. You pass on all the things you learned as a journalist to future generations, and stay connected to news production via a student newspaper, online publication or broadcast station.
On the other hand, professional journalists may have far less experience developing budgets, helping students craft media bylaws and attending campus meetings as an adviser and/or faculty member rather than as a reporter covering the meetings.
An Examination of the State of College Newspapers in a Turbulent Time
By Lisa Lyon Payne Virginia Wesleyan College
Abstract: This paper provides an initial investigation of the current state of the college newspapers among liberal arts schools in the southeast. An online survey using both open and closed-ended questions examines variables such as method and frequency of publication, use of advertising and online presence. Only 37.5% of respondents reported having a journalism program at their institution, and those who contributed to the student newspaper came from majors ranging from biology to philosophy. While a full 100% of respondents reported having advertising in their college newspapers, about one-third of respondents reported they did not have an online edition of the paper. Most publications were fewer than 10 pages and did have a faculty adviser to the publication. Of the schools that participated, a majority said there is no class credit associated with their publications. Also of interest, just more than half of respondents stated staff writers receive some form of compensation for their contributions to the publication; where this compensation comes from varies.
What do Twitter, the iPad and a campus newspaper have in common? Current literature suggests that all three are a preferred communication choice for many of today’s college students (The Washington Times, March 8, 2012). Despite the slow and agonizing decline of traditional newspapers, research indicates that even in this modern, wireless world of communication, many college students gravitate toward the print version of their campus newspaper over an electronic version. Additionally, despite the woes of the traditional news daily, many student newspapers appear to be weathering the storm with fewer economic troubles (Keller 2008, Supiano 2012).
Newsrooms at liberal arts schools tend to reflect the diverse backgrounds of the students
By Lisa Lyon Payne Virginia Wesleyan College
A recent study of the current state of the college newspapers among liberal arts schools in the Southeast found that fewer than 40 percent of the editors at the Phi Beta Kappa institutions surveyed have a journalism program at their institution. Those students who contribute to their student newspapers come from a range of majors, including biology, philosophy, English, economics, American studies and international affairs.
It’s not uncommon for liberal arts institutions that do offer journalism majors to either require or strongly encourage students to double major.
Book is both moving memoir and fascinating journey into U.S. history
Written by Belva Davis, with Vicki Haddock
Review by Carolyn Schurr Levin
To describe Belva Davis’ book simply as a memoir by the first black female news anchor in the United States is to ignore the inspiration and history lesson that this incredible book provides. Davis takes us on a journey, from her birth in 1932 in deeply segregated Monroe, La., during the Great Depression, through a lifetime filled with an uncanny ability to overcome obstacles and surpass even her own expectations, to the 21st century, when she has been honored with accolades and awards, including eight local Emmys and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and the Northern California Television Academy. Her odyssey can only be described as extraordinary. Although it may not have been her intent when she set out to tell her story, Davis’ memoir surely can inspire young journalists to take on bigger, even seemingly insurmountable challenges, both professional and social.
Davis’ memories of her childhood are filled with sadness. Because her mother, a 14- year-old laundress earning $4 a week, and her father, also a teenager without formal education, working at a local sawmill, were unable to care for her, she became, in her words, “portable – rather like an old suitcase that they would pass from place to place.” Her family fled the racism of the Deep South and headed for Oakland, Calif., as part of the Second Great Migration west during World War II. In California, unfortunately, life was not all that much easier for Davis. She describes how, as both a black and a Southerner, she confronted prejudice in school. She lived in projects. She suffered from neglect and abuse. She describes a home “overstuffed with people but lacking in affection.”
How can the journal better serve you and take advantage of the online format?
In my previous, inaugural column, I asked y’all for payback—that is, to give back to the journal for all the ways it has helped you out by contributing to the journal. The response so far has been wonderful. Thanks to your efforts and some good corralling by Managing Editor Debra Landis, we’ve gotten numerous good submissions, with six good articles, a book review and a research article in this issue, with more to come in January. Keep them coming!