Community newspapers the ‘lifeblood of every community’

Local publications provide ample opportunities 

Yvonne Mintz is the editor and publisher of The Facts in Brazoria County, Texas.

It’s not a newspaper most readers would have heard of. The Facts doesn’t compete with USA Today or even the Houston Chronicle, which is right up the road.

It doesn’t need to.

The Facts is just as likely to cover a local softball game or a high school graduation as it is the latest controversy at the town council.

The paper’s motto reminds readers of its mission: “No one delivers local news like The Facts.”

While sitting on a panel talking to college journalists, Mintz expanded on this idea.

“Without us, officials in this community would be unchecked in their power,” she told the interns participating in the Dow Jones News Fund / Texas Press Association Center for Editing Excellence training program before they left for internships at publications such as the Houston Chronicle and patch.com but also the Azle News, Hill Country News, Pleasanton Express and Tyler County Booster, all in Texas.

Mike Hodges, executive director of the Texas Press Association, said of community newspapers, “They are the lifeblood of every community.” Continue reading “Community newspapers the ‘lifeblood of every community’”

Newsroom staffs: ‘think inclusively’

‘Post’ managing editor, Krissah Thompson, also tells students to share their passion for journalism

As the managing editor of diversity and inclusion for The Washington Post, Krissah Thompson’s goal for all newsrooms can be summed up in two words: “Think inclusively.”

That was her message to 86 college interns working for the Dow Jones News Fund this summer.

“I think of my role really rooted in coverage and also in jobs,” Thompson said. 

She emphasized how diversity, diversity in sources and diversity in who is reporting the stories, helps to develop trust.

“Talking about diversity in sourcing goes to the heart of why diversity matters,” Thompson, the first Black woman to hold the title managing editor at The Post, said. “(Consumers) want to see their communities reflected in all their nuances. They’re looking at who is telling those stories. Do those folks reflect the community they are talking about?”

Thompson got her start working for the college newspaper at the University of Texas at Austin — The Daily Texan. Continue reading “Newsroom staffs: ‘think inclusively’”

Collegiate photographer: ‘Chase your passions and what you love to do’

Elias Valverde II
Elias Valverde II

Like so many college students, Elias Valverde II started his college career pursuing a degree in architecture. Then he changed to political science. Then he switched to art with a concentration in photography. It’s clear he found his passion.

He took a photography class at Tarrant County College.

As he tells it, “The class was centered around a weeklong trip to Cuba where we spent our time walking the streets of Old Havana, mainly doing street photography.  However, we often stopped and talked with the local people, asking questions and getting to know them. We found out quickly that the Cuban people were just as curious as were, asking where we were from and why we were visiting. The experience was something I’ll never forget because it was almost like traveling back in time to a place before cellphones and Wi-Fi and that environment really made you live in the moment without distractions.”

But it was also where he discovered what turned into his passion. Continue reading “Collegiate photographer: ‘Chase your passions and what you love to do’”

Navigating disasters and tragedy as a journalist  

‘Empathy to the forefront’

By Christine Bartruff
University of South Carolina Honors College

A chemical smell. A haze in the air. Broken windows. Abandoned jugs of milk. Through the eyes of a reporter, this was the scene in Minneapolis following protests against police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd. 

Erin Ailworth, Midwest correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, spoke to students via Google Hangouts while she was on the ground in Minneapolis. Ailworth is well-versed in covering heavy subject matter. She’s been The Wall Street Journal’s go-to disaster reporter since 2017, reporting on hurricanes, wildfires and, most recently, protests. 

READ AILWORTH’S STORIES
IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

When interviewing people, especially those who are traumatized by the events she’s covering, Ailworth exercises empathy. Approach people gently, she said, without shoving a camera or notebook or recording device in their face. Start with introducing yourself, and then ask if they would be willing to talk with you. Continue reading “Navigating disasters and tragedy as a journalist  “

Local media leaders encourage prospective journalists

Community journalism ‘never more important’ than now

By Megan Wehring
Texas State University

The Pew Research Center continues to report on declining newspaper circulation (“its lowest level since 1940”), revenue (“declined dramatically between 2008 and 2018”) and employment (“dropped by nearly half between 2008 and 2018”).

But Frank Blethen, in a Washington Post column, says, “Local journalism has never been more important or sought after.”

And longtime journalist Joyce Dehli calls local journalism “an essential force in our democracy.”

Emphasizing the continuing role of local media in American society, a panel of local journalists visited with college students as part of Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association intern training May 27.

Panelists discussed how local journalists need to earn and maintain the public’s trust. They must tell all the stories of the community. Continue reading “Local media leaders encourage prospective journalists”

COVID19: Telling ‘The story of why’

Using a health equity lens to cover COVID-19 in minority communities

By Lyndsey Brennan
Kent State University

For the media to cover the effect of the coronavirus on minority communities in a way that is just, journalists must frame stories using a health equity lens, said Nicole Bronzan, senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Bronzan addressed about 60 Dow Jones News Fund interns and their supervisors in a May 27 webinar. 

Bronzan, who worked as an editor at The New York Times before directing communications for nonprofit organizations, said reporters should apply two major principles when covering these communities:

First, journalists should focus on the reasons situations aren’t equitable. “You have to start [the story] with the problem because people don’t always know about it,” Bronzan said. “But don’t stay there. Don’t let that be all the story is about.”

If journalists are reporting a statistic that says black people are three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people, they should dig into the underlying causes—such as access to affordable and stable housing and good jobs with fair pay—that led to that disparity in health. Continue reading “COVID19: Telling ‘The story of why’”

Shoot-out participants continue despite COVID-19

11 photojournalists document city in crisis

Everything was pretty much ready to go for this spring’s Shoot-out in New York City. Then, as with so many other things, along came COVID-19 and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York issued a ban on meetings of more than 500 people.

“The spread of this coronavirus is not going to stop on its own, and we know that mass gatherings have been hotspots for the virus to infect large numbers of people quickly,” Cuomo said.

Under the guidance announced by Cuomo, most gatherings of more than 500 people were banned, including the College Media Association conference.

“Mr. Cuomo’s decision to limit gatherings of more than 500 people was an especially heavy blow to the theater industry, a crown jewel of New York City’s tourist trade. Last season, the industry drew 14.8 million patrons and grossed $1.8 billion,” according to an article in The New York Times March 12.

Quickly, the conference evolved and Saturday sessions, including the critique of the Photo Shoot-out led by Jack Zibluck, were moved to Friday. Otherwise, it continued as normal with 11 participants. Continue reading “Shoot-out participants continue despite COVID-19”

NPR’s Totenberg: ‘I wanted to be a witness to history’

Meeting the person ‘behind the voice’

Anytime a radio personality gets on the air, listeners develop a mental picture of the person behind the voice.

Frequent National Public Radio listeners are no different. Ira Glass, Sylvia Poggioli, Steve Inskeep and Juan Williams appear on the radio so often anyone who has heard them has developed a mental image of what they look like even without scouring NPR’s site for a portrait.

Nina Totenberg, who, for the record is all of 5-foot, 4 ½-inches and looks like everyone’s favorite aunt, is no different.

Totenberg has been on NPR almost since it first went on the air in 1970 and she loves to talk about what it was like “back then.”

“I’m so old that there were no women reporters when I was young,” she told a crowd of college journalists in Washington, D.C. “I wanted to be Nancy Drew. I figured as I got older I realized I couldn’t be Nancy Drew because, first of all, I’d have to kill my mother. Nancy Drew had her widowed father and her boyfriend Ned and her red roadster. And none of those things were going to happen to me and I really loved my mother.”

She enjoys a good laugh.

So, she wasn’t going to be Nancy Drew. And she wasn’t going to be a police detective.

Continue reading “NPR’s Totenberg: ‘I wanted to be a witness to history’”

Photographers challenge themselves during DC Shoot-out

class favorite
CLASS FAVORITE Mari Woodmansee, California State University Bakersfield (Jennifer Burger), mwoodmansee25@gmail.com. Activist Phillipos Melaku-Bello pretends to be an angry protester hitting someone with his sign. He said, “Activist can be passionate this is a good picture to have.”

College Media Convention showcases student photojournalists

By Bradley Wilson, CMR Managing Editor

I made it. With one minute to spare. I was supposed to be at the opening session for the Photo Shoot-out three hours early. American Airlines had other plans. However, thanks to people like Meredith Taylor, CMA’s executive director, Kevin Kleine of Berry College and Sam Oldenburg of Western Kentucky University, I really didn’t need to be there. It was in good hands.

It’s always fun meeting with the photographers, discussing the assignment and possible interpretations of it and the challenges they’ll face in the next couple days. The reasons for NOT putting metadata in each image they want to submit have gotten down right clever. But, yes, they have to find a way to put the metadata with any image they submit.

So, we showed some past entries when the hotel’s technology cooperated and we sent the ban of some 50 college photojournalists on their merry way.

THE ASSIGNMENT: You need to find a person who lives or works in Washington, D.C. or the area — not a tourist. Tell that person’s story. Have some fun along the way and be prepared to explain what you were thinking at the critique. In the metadata File Info, include the following information in the following format. full name, school (adviser’s name); your e-mail address; caption that includes the names of all identifiable people in the image. Continue reading “Photographers challenge themselves during DC Shoot-out”

Washington Post editor: Press exists to hold government accountable

‘Important time for journalism in this country’

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor

When Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron spoke to a crowd of hundreds of college journalists at the National College Media Convention, sponsored by the College Media Association and Associated Collegiate Press, he was rather unassuming. For a man who has worked for the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times and who has been portrayed in the movie Spotlight for leadership at the Boston Globe and coverage of the Boston Catholic sexual abuse scandal that earned the Globe a Pulitzer Prize in 2003, he seemed rather quiet.

But that’s just on the surface.

When it comes to standing up to the president of the United States or for the First Amendment, Baron is far from unassuming.

Baron acknowledged from the outset to a crowd of hundreds of college journalists, “This is a really important time for journalism in this country. Obviously our profession has come under assault primarily from this White House down the road, and so we have to be thinking a lot about what our profession is all about and what our role is in a democracy. We find ourselves having to defend ourselves in a way that we haven’t had to do in quite some time.”

Still, he saved his punchline for the end — truth and facts do not depend on someone’s opinion, who holds the most power or what’s the most popular. Continue reading “Washington Post editor: Press exists to hold government accountable”