Photojournalists: Get out of your comfort zone

Carolyn Van Houten. Photo by Ray Whitehouse.
Carolyn Van Houten. Photo by Ray Whitehouse.

Advice from “College Photographer of the Year”

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor


Carolyn Van Houten is the 70th College Photographer of the Year. Now a staff photographer at the San Antonio Express-News, Van Houten is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After you were named the top college photographer this year, you said, “I’m kind of shocked.” Elaborate.

cropped-CMR_arrow26_CMR_SiteIconGray.pngPhotojournalism competitions are quite arbitrary, so when you are named the “College Photographer of the Year,” it’s a bit shocking, because you know that there were a lot of really incredible photographers all around the world that year who also could have won given different judges and different circumstances.

For someone else who aspires to be a top-notch college photographer, what would you suggest?

I would suggest doing a lot of internships, especially ones that put you in communities out of your comfort zone for long periods of time. I would also suggest seeking mentors who will help foster your way of working, not just your work—mentors who take the time to get to know you and recognize your quirks so that they can help you work them into strengths. Continue reading Photojournalists: Get out of your comfort zone

Florida college embraces online and social media

Dormant “newspaper” brought back to life online

Photo by Fred Arnold — My time with the Sandbox was rewarding. Every time I covered a story, I was covering someone's life, their best or worst moments. I got to experience many different people, cultures and ideas. On top of all that, I documented these moments in photography, videography, and graphic design. I witnessed these things and had a chance to leave a small mark on history. Adding social media to the mix allowed my colleagues and I to share the news in a modern way to a broader audience.
Photo by Fred Arnold — My time with the Sandbox was rewarding. Every time I covered a story, I was covering someone’s life, their best or worst moments. I got to experience many different people, cultures and ideas. On top of all that, I documented these moments in photography, videography, and graphic design. I witnessed these things and had a chance to leave a small mark on history. Adding social media to the mix allowed my colleagues and I to share the news in a modern way to a broader audience.

By Kathy Bryson
St. Petersburg College

Journalism in the last 10 years has been a roller coaster of change, and many of us have probably wondered whether or not we’re teaching a dinosaur. Some programs have gone so far as to merge with other disciplines, becoming double degrees with additional courses in computers, communications, public relations, or social media. With the overlap in subjects that comes with convergent media programs have to make decisions about what they will be be able to cover and, equally, what they will not.

When The Sandbox students revitalized the publication, they did so online only.

St. Petersburg College’s student newspaper, The Sandbox, began actively exploring change since its reincarnation in 2011. Ours is not a formal certificate or degree program, but rather an associate’s degree in mass communication with classes that transfer into the University of South Florida’s bachelor’s degree. However, the school wanted and needed an active paper to cultivate student interest and encourage practice. Continue reading Florida college embraces online and social media

Arizona students cover Olympics

A prime assignment for 1 of 25 selected to cover summer games…

Scotty Bara in Rio de Janeiro
Scotty Bara in Rio de Janeiro

Scotty Bara is a senior at Arizona State University majoring in journalism and mass communication. He was one of 25 students accepted into a program to cover the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He is posting on Twitter @scottybara. Follow the class posts using #CronkiteRio.

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor


What led you to covering the Olympics?

It was always my dream to cover the Olympics. It’s the world’s biggest sporting event and I was in disbelief when I heard I was one of the 25 accepted to the program to cover the games out of the hundreds of students who applied.

When applying to colleges, I heard of the Olympic program at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU. I knew I wanted to pursue journalism in college and the Olympics program was a major factor I considered. I followed the school’s coverage of the 2012 London games and was amazed at how much content the student journalists produced over the span of three weeks. I worked hard in my classes to build up my resume at ASU and applied to the program. I went to football, basketball, soccer, water polo, baseball and lacrosse to attempt to master sports photography during my years at the Cronkite School. Continue reading Arizona students cover Olympics

NYC Shoot-out: Students of CMA

Photographers given opportunity to reflect on conference attendees

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor

I couldn’t be at the College Media Association convention in New York City this spring. It was just bad timing the week before our spring break. Yet I knew there would be an enthusiastic group of students wanting to participate in the Shoot-out. Jack Zibluk again stepped up to help with the administration.

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Co-sponsored by the National Press Photographers Association

But I wanted to get a feel for what I was missing. So working with Brandon Stanton’s basic reporting concepts in Humans of New York, I tweaked the assignment to challenge the students so we could all have a little fun and learn a little more about our conference attendees as well.

Just based on the results, I’d say everyone had a little fun and learned something in the process. It was good to see that the students had time to get out of the hotel, visiting different parts of the city that never sleeps. The top entries made me feel like I was there.

But they went beyond that. The best entries also gave me some insight into the individuals who attended the convention. The write-ups didn’t take a shot-gun approach, telling me a little about a lot. They took an in-depth approach, as Stanton does, telling a lot about a tiny piece of the person’s life. If there was ever a time to exercise what a friend of mine used to say — “If you have five minutes to take a person’s photo, spend three minutes getting to know them and two minutes taking their picture. — this is it. Get to know them. Pick one interesting aspect of their life and tell me more about that.
Continue reading NYC Shoot-out: Students of CMA

Ethics conference honors Walter Cronkite, ‘the most trusted man in America’

Bob Bergland introduces a panel at the Walter Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics. Panelists discussed "Ethics in the Trenches" and included Derek Donavan, public editor of the Kansas City Star; Bridget Blevins, news Director of KQ2 television; Greg Kozol, digital content director of the St. Joseph News-Press; Ross Martin, editor of the Platte County Citizen and Adam Waltz, anchor and producer at Fox 26 KNPN. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Bob Bergland introduces a panel at the Walter Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics. Panelists discussed “Ethics in the Trenches” and included Derek Donavan, public editor of the Kansas City Star; Bridget Blevins, news Director of KQ2 television; Greg Kozol, digital content director of the St. Joseph News-Press; Ross Martin, editor of the Platte County Citizen and Adam Waltz, anchor and producer at Fox 26 KNPN. Photo by Bradley Wilson

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor

In an era where decisions to cover something and to publish something can be made in second, not hours or days, college educators — and working journalists — continue to struggle with how to teach ethics and what to teach. Clearly, it is more than giving students a link to a code of ethics and putting them out on the streets.

To foster education in media ethics, Missouri Western State University hosted the Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics for the second year including academic presentations, panel discussions, lectures and open discussions on various aspects of ethics.

Continue reading Ethics conference honors Walter Cronkite, ‘the most trusted man in America’

Government officials reminded to be transparent in their actions

Sean Flynn, assistant United States attorney and deputy chief of the civil division, speaks during the AEJMC Scholastic Division meeting at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Bradley WIlson
Sean Flynn, assistant United States attorney and deputy chief of the civil division, speaks during the AEJMC Scholastic Division meeting at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Bradley Wilson

Access to information sometimes takes a nudge, sometimes more

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor

Perhaps nothing is more frustrating to a college media adviser or a student working on the college media than being told that they — or their students — can’t have information. Sometimes just a phone call to the appropriate person can resolve the problem but often members of the media have to resort to filing a public information request.

While public university attorneys and other officials — acting on behalf of the state government — sometimes delay and appeal to the state attorney general’s office, sometimes just the request itself can remind public officials that their jobs are supposed to be conducted in a transparent fashion accountable to the public.

When members of the Scholastic Journalism Division of AEJMC met down at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in January, two federal government officials discussed the Freedom of Information Act.

Continue reading Government officials reminded to be transparent in their actions

Austin Shoot-out: Texas Our Texas

Photographers had to contend with a soggy shoot in Austin


By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor

The assignment was rather straightforward. “Texas, Our Texas.” Give the judges a feel of a piece of the story of Texas, Our Texas. Routine life. Daily life. Work. Play. Offer an analysis of the state that goes far beyond the superficial.

Then came the rain. Lots of it. More rain that Austin had ever seen in a single day — 16 inches.

Then came the tornadoes. Damaged a school south of Austin. Closed the airport.

But the 60 or so students who indicated they wanted to participate in the Shoot-out and the 47 who finally participated persevered and documented a little slice of life in Texas during the College Media Association / Associated College Press convention in Austin over Halloween weekend. Continue reading Austin Shoot-out: Texas Our Texas

Vinny Vella, at 22, takes home piece of Denver Pulitzer

Young journo is a strong advocate for value of internships

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor


Vinny Vella is a journalist from Philadelphia. He graduated from La Salle University in 2012 with a bachelor’s in communication and a minor in marketing. He is working as the night cops-and-crime beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News.

But at age 22, while working as a Dow Jones News Fund intern at the Denver Post, Vella participated in editing stories on the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and got his name on a Pulitzer Prize. In the submission for the prize, Editor Gregory Moore said, “Once again, Colorado would be ground zero to mass murder.”

His story just isn’t that different from many recent college graduates completing internships, job hunting and discovering the power of quality journalism. Except, of course, he has his name on a Pulitzer Prize.

Follow Vinny on Twitter @Vellastrations and read some of his impressions on the importance of gaining real-world experience outside the classroom.

Vincent Vella of La Salle University listens during the tour of the post-production room. Vella will be doing his internship at The Denver Post. Austin American-Statesman, Thursday, May 24, 2012. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Vinny Vella of La Salle University listens during the tour of the post-production room. Vella will be doing his internship at The Denver Post. Austin American-Statesman, Thursday, May 24, 2012. Photo by Bradley Wilson

Continue reading Vinny Vella, at 22, takes home piece of Denver Pulitzer

Shoot-Out provides photographers on-location learning opportunity

From the contest coordinator’s notebook: change, evolution the constant in student photojournalism

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor

Twice a year, photojournalists come to the College Media Association’s national conventions to share ideas, to meet other college photojournalists and to visit another part of the country. And twice a year about 60 of them choose to learn by doing, participating in the CMA Shoot-Out, an on-site photo competition and critique, an event that has helped students as they begin their work as visual communicators.

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CMR Managing Editor Bradley Wilson is entering his second decade of work with CMA’s on-site “Shoot-Out” for student photojournalists.

Mark Watkins, a participant when he was a student at Georgia College and State University said, “Winning ‘Class Favorite’ at the Shoot-out in Chicago in 2012 was the moment I decided to pursue photography as a career. It was a challenge, and I remember thinking not just how a photograph communicates something, but for the first time how I can communicate something through a photograph. It seems a small distinction, but I think it makes all the difference.”

When I first started helping out with the Shoot-Out, in 2004, students still used film. The contest was limited by how many rolls we could afford to develop, 30. So it didn’t take long to move to a digital paradigm. In 2005, to be precise. Kansas City. The theme for the contest was “Kansas City Portrait.” Then as now, we challenged students to “to get outside that box.”

FIRST PLACE 2005: Nathan Lang, Johnson County Community College (Anne Christiansen-Bullers, adviser) — Kansas City’s 106th homicide of 2005
FIRST PLACE 2005: Nathan Lang, Johnson County Community College (Anne Christiansen-Bullers, adviser) — Kansas City’s 106th homicide of 2005

Continue reading Shoot-Out provides photographers on-location learning opportunity

For photojournalists, internships are a must

Baltimore Sun photo intern Al Drago dances after making an early deadline at the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers preseason NFL game in Baltimore, M.D. in August 2014. Photo by Rachel Woolf.
Al Drago dances after making an early deadline at the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers preseason NFL game in Baltimore, M.D. in August 2014. Photo by Rachel Woolf.

‘Eyes of History’ winner shares views on developing skills as photojournalist

By Bradley Wilson, Ph.D.
Midwestern State University

Al Drago
Al Drago

The White House News Photographers Association honored Elon University senior Al Drago this month as part of its 2015 “Eyes of History” student still photography contest.

The journalism major from Durham, N.C., was selected following a public judging, hosted at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. The contest’s judges were Matt McClain, a staff photographer with The Washington Post; Allison Shelley, an independent documentary photographer and multimedia journalist; and Brendan Smialowski, a photojournalist based in Washington, D.C.

The chief photographer for “Elon Local News” and former photo editor for The Pendulum, Drago has gained several accolades in recent years. The National Press Photographers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and North Carolina Press Photographer Association have all recognized his work. Continue reading For photojournalists, internships are a must