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”


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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”

Hight reminds student journalists to take care of themselves

Sound advice from the Mega Workshop

By Bradley Wilson, CMR Managing Editor

When it came to the opening of the College Media Mega Workshop in Minneapolis, Joe Hight asked the 350 or so students what they all have in common.

Quickly, the students stated the obvious.

  • We tell stories
  • We all individually tell stories
  • We have deadlines
  • We’re nosey. We’re curious as well.
  • We’re skeptical.
  • We follow a set of ethical standards
  • We’re passionate. When you lose that passion that’s when u go into cynicism.
  • We’re here for the truth. People wonder what the truth is these days.
  • We’re tough. Only heard three or four of you say yeah.
  • We ask the tough questions.

Then Hight turned the talk into what he really wanted students to start thinking about.

He asked, “I’ve always learned how journalists are resilient. Is that a myth?”

Continue reading “Hight reminds student journalists to take care of themselves”

WordPress speaks my language

The CMS powerhouse dominates the content delivery business

By Bradley Wilson, CMR Managing Editor

“WordPress is so amazing it doesn’t even need an introduction,” said Brad Parbs, a specialist in WordPress-focused Web development. However, for colleges and universities looking to update their website, knowing that WordPress is the most often-used content management system and that it is consistently ranked as the most user-friendly and easiest to use makes it easier to narrow down the choices.

Indeed, surveys rank it as having a market share greater than 60 percent, including sites for companies such as Forbes and Pepsi. Clearly, WordPress has become the content management system of choice for collegiate media. More than half (54%) of the school publications that received an Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker or who where a finalist in 2018 used WordPress.

What follows is a discussion with Jonathan Elmer, former student publications manager at Louisiana Tech about his experience implementing WordPress and moving the student media online.

So, I get schools asking me all the time about starting up a website or revamping their old one. Is WordPress the way to go? Why/not?

I was hired as adviser for all student media here with the immediate mandate to take the publications online. My supervisor,  Brenda Heiman, had championed this initiative and been tremendously supportive from the beginning. Since I was building everything from scratch – re-launching the student publications (newspaper, magazine and yearbook), writing job descriptions, interviewing and hiring staff, learning the procurement process with the State of Louisiana, purchasing equipment (new cameras, lenses and audio gear) – choosing WordPress to take our student newspaper and magazine online was just one of a myriad of decisions and tasks I completed this past year. Continue reading “WordPress speaks my language”

Student photojournalists document ‘city that never sleeps’

Photo Shoot highlights NYC Convention

When the photojournalists gathered in a dank room in New York City, they really didn’t know what to expect. Every year, the Photo Shoot-out is a little different. A different theme. Different contestants. And the city is just never the same. Every day is a bit different from the day before.

This year, the theme  — “The city that never sleeps” — gave students the option to find something new that told a piece of the story.

Jim McNay, former director of the visual journalism program at Brooks Institute of Photography, said, “These students showed considerable variety in what they were able to photograph around New York City. They really ‘worked the subject’ and captured a wide range of life.”

But it wasn’t easy. Continue reading “Student photojournalists document ‘city that never sleeps’”