A cautionary tale of a coverage firestorm

Reflections and recommendations from the adviser of the college newspaper that published what the Daily Beast described as ‘the most racist front page in America’

By Shawn W. Murphy
SUNY Plattsburgh


I took one look at the paper and my heart sank. I sighed. I knew this would understandably hurt feelings and upset readers. I did not predict, though, that it would yield a Daily Beast article titled “College Paper Prints The Most Racist Front Page in America.” Once this article was published online, the clickbait medium, along with social media, immediately drew attention to what had happened on our campus. Oct. 23, 2015, would have been like any other Friday morning during the academic year, in which I, as faculty adviser to the student-run newspaper Cardinal Points, read and mark up the hot-of-the-presses issue in preparation for my Monday night post-publication critique delivered to the entire staff, except on that morning there were a slew of emails in my inbox and messages on my phone.

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Shawn Murphy

I did not know about the firestorm that was to come. I did not know that there would be many more email and phone messages from regional and national reporters who wanted to interview me and the student-editors. I did not know about the hate emails that the students on staff and I would receive from people on and off campus. I did not know that administrators and faculty – including journalism professors in my own department – would come down so hard on the newspaper, its student staff, and me. I did not know that I would witness student-editors in utter anguish and tears about the backlash for what the felt was a one-time mistake in the production process, not a malicious act of racism. And I did not know how lonely and difficult it would be to defend students’ First Amendment rights and explain what my professional organization, College Media Association, considers to be a legally and ethically sound best practice for a newspaper adviser – the post-publication critique without mandatory prior review.

This article for College Media Review marks the first time I have spoken publicly about what happened. I did not speak with any of the local, regional and national reporters who asked to interview me for a quick sound-bite quote to drop into a story they had already written. And it was suggested to me that I channel interview requests to the college’s director of marketing and communications. Instead, I wanted to tell the whole story under my own terms and in my own words; after all, there was no one closer to it than me and the student-editors. I wanted to let enough time pass so that emotions could subside, then explain how it all went down. In doing so, I would explain how this situation came to be; examine what have been the ramifications for the college, the department, the newspaper, its student-editors, and me as the adviser; outline what structural measures Cardinal Points have taken in the aftermath to regain trust and credibility; and offer advice to my advising colleagues across North America.

This is a cautionary tale to other advisers at public colleges. Continue reading

Students in the trenches for political coverage

The Alestle at SIU-Edwardsville keeping tabs on presidential campaigns

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Photo courtesy Alestle


Covering presidential campaigns can be an “invaluable experience” for student journalists, promoting staff collaboration and providing important content for college media, according toTammy Merrett, who advises The Alestle at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, a university with an enrollment of about 14,000 students and about 23 miles from St. Louis. Merrett, a college media adviser with 19 years of student newspaper advising experience, has worked in the field as a professional journalist–both as a reporter and editor–since 1986.

“The staff plans to continue its periodical coverage of the presidential campaigns as Election Day quickly approaches,” Merrett said. “During this season of presidential campaigning, The Alestle  has kept up with the latest issues regarding the candidates as they battle for their parties’ nominations.”

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Book Review: Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights: Mediating Suffering

Insightful articles examine media’s attempts to inform the world about suffering

By Susan S. Novak
SUNY Potsdam

Student newspaper advisers and journalism teachers know the difficulties of helping young reporters understand the nuances of objectivity and bias, false balance and fair reporting. We ask such questions as: Do we know our audiences? Are we framing? Employing a U.S.-centric or regional slant? Supporting only one side?

Edited by Tristan Anne Borer. Published by Zed Books (2012); 264 pages, $36.95 (paper). ISBN 10: 1780320671 ISBN 13: 9781780320670P

Edited by Tristan Anne Borer. Published by Zed Books (2012); 264 pages, $36.95 (paper). ISBN 10: 1780320671 ISBN 13: 9781780320670P

Advocacy creep into news reporting is concerning, but in some stories, a degree of advocacy may have a legitimate place. Even some well-known reporters have argued the point: In a 1996 article about the Bosnian War coverage, Sherry Ricchiardi quotes CNN’s Christiane Amanpour as saying, “”In certain situations, the classic definition of objectivity can mean neutrality, and neutrality can mean you are an accomplice to all sorts of evil. In this case, genocide and crimes against humanity,” and Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute as suggesting that in this war, “presenting the other side in the interest of neutral reporting is ‘simple-minded.’”1 (26)

Human suffering is an area of coverage that reporters should consider carefully, and this is the focus of Tristan Anne Borer’s 2012 volume Media, Mobilization, and Human Rights: Mediating Suffering.

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Christian university takes on national politics

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Coverage amidst the Palm trees: (from left) Ryan Teason, Aaron Broghamer and Brent Primus.

Student journalists take on presidential political coverage in Florida

By Danielle Mendocha
Palm Beach Atlantic University


Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio dropped by the neighborhood the other day along with the national and international press.

Providing news coverage were The New York Times, CNN, a Japanese TV network… and journalists from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.

These days PBAU journalism students are covering national politics for the campus press and the nearby Cox daily newspaper and building portfolio credits along the way.

“Student portfolios that include only parking and cafeteria woes aren’t the kind of content that typically impresses an employer,” noted PBAU journalism professor Michael Ray Smith, author of “7 Days to a Byline that Pays.” “The dean suggested that PBA’s journalism program get off campus and cover the news, and what better venue than the U.S. presidential race?’

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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.
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Reflections on a learning experience in Vietnam

 

Jay Hartwell, Fulbright scholar and CMA member, reflects on what he brought to Vietnam—and what he learned

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Jay Hartwell and big smiles from the class.

Jay Hartwell has been advising student media programs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus since 1997 after working eight years as a general assignment reporter in Honolulu and six years researching and writing a book about contemporary native Hawaiian culture. In 2013-2014, he received a 10-month, Fulbright Scholar grant to set up a student media program at Hue University in Vietnam. College Media Review spoke with him about the experience and his interest in Vietnam.

CMR: What prompted your interest in Vietnam?

Hartwell: I returned to Hawaii to work as a journalist in 1980 but never traveled to Asia until spring break in 2012, when my own children were grown up and out of the house. For three weeks, I stayed with a Vietnamese family whose daughter my family had hosted in Honolulu six summers earlier. I spent all my time in Hue in central Vietnam, because I wanted to learn more than I could by city hopping. While helping the family at its private school for three weeks, I asked their daughter to accompany me to Hue University of Sciences that has a journalism program. Through her translation, they requested a lecture on Hawaii journalism education for their 400 students. I put one together in a few days and during the Q&A, a student asked, “How are we supposed to get jobs if we don’t have any experience?”

That’s when I got the idea for a Fulbright grant and a Hue workshop during the upcoming Christmas break. I had 15 years with experiential learning through my university’s student media program. Our staffers get internships and jobs. Vietnam uses lectures to teach students who need/want hands-on experience to get jobs. I proposed a two-week, news magazine workshop for the Hue students during Christmas, then setting up a student media program through newspaper and magazine production classes at Hue University through the Fulbright Scholar program. The workshop succeed; Fulbright accepted; Hue agreed to have me with modifications to the proposal, and the process began in August 2013 when I moved in with the family whose daughter we had hosted.

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Getting it Right: Muslims, their stories, and your news staffs

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Students do “poster sessions” in class putting a writing-and-graphics approach to their encounter with someone of another culture and language. The whiteboard poster practice led to a final poster session where they had to combine the story of their own ethnic journey with the ones they found in their feature reporting and writing.

Campus media can tell stories of Muslims in ways that help build better understanding of life for these students

By Michael A. Longinow
Biola University


Syed Rizwan Farook walked the campus of California State University in San Bernardino like any other student. Friends remember him as quiet but friendly. He was smart. He finished high school early by testing out of requirements. He made the dean’s list at CSUSB and earned an undergraduate degree in 2010 in environmental health, according to the campus university’s newspaper. But five years later, he and his wife, a woman he’d met on a Muslim pilgrimage in the Middle East, took automatic weapons into a holiday party at a county services building and killed 14 people, wounding 21 others before being killed themselves in a gun battle with police, according to the Washington Post.

Newsweek called this young man and his wife “Terror’s New Face.” Each had, in their own way, taken center stage as a “homegrown extremist.” And the result, on college campuses, was a renewed set of fears about danger and risk from students based on what they look like, what they believe, and where they — or their family — grew up, according to coverage Dec. 5 in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Can campus media stop radicalization of Muslims on their campuses, or nearby? Can it, all by itself, bridge the chasms of suspicion between Muslim students and those on American campuses nationwide? Probably not. But it can tell the stories of Muslims in ways that help build better understanding of life for these students. And the time for that is now — or yesterday.

There is no easy fix for campus newspapers to report on, write about, and provide ongoing coverage of Muslims in the Post-San Bernardino era. And the steps might seem easy. What makes them difficult is more a matter of the mind and heart than of technique.

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Book Review: ‘Beyond News: The Future of Journalism’

Author: news not in crisis; way journalists are trained is

By Carolyn Schurr Levin
Stony Brook University


In his enlightening and forward thinking book, “Beyond News: The Future of Journalism,” Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism at New York University, argues with great conviction that after “more than a century and a half of selling the latest facts, journalists need to sell something else.”

2016_Beyondjournalism_BookThere is “not much of a living in hawking that which is given away free” on the Internet, Stephens continues. Because facts, news and information are pouring out on “our laptops, our tablets, our smart phones,” the era when humankind “hungered after information, after facts, after news,” has ended, Stevens argues. And, so, he concludes, we must now train and allow our best journalists to provide “a wise take on what’s going on,” what he aptly calls “wisdom journalism” – journalism that strengthens our understanding of the world.

Stephens forcefully argues that it’s not the news that is in crisis. It’s the way that journalists are trained to collect and present that news.

“Like a lot of ideas,” Stephens said in a recent interview with the College Media Review, the idea of wisdom journalism “challenges something that we take for granted, which is what journalism is and does,” the 19th and 20th century notion that journalists are primarily collectors of facts. He questions “the continued clinging to this notion,” because, he writes, “Newspapers, newsreels, and newscasts . . . rank high among the forces that spurred modernism and postmodernism in the 20th century.” Continue reading

Quate’s love of journalism spanned into her 80s

Retired adviser dies in Florida; had been affiliated with CMA since early days

Special to CMR

The late Shirley Quate’s love of journalism spanned decades—from her teen years, which found her working for her high school newspaper in Muncie, Indiana, and writing a column for the local paper, to being a member of a writing group in her 80s. As a journalism educator, she taught, advised, was active in college media associations, and retired as a professor emeritus of journalism.

ShirleyQuate

Sirley Quate (Photo via Legacy.com)

A celebration of life service will be held at a later date for Quate, who died Jan. 28 at her home in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, according to her obituary, published on Legacy.com.

“She was an excellent teacher, leader, worker and friend,” said Lesley W. Marcello of Quate, who held offices with the National Council of College Press Advisers, the predecessor to the College Media Association, and also worked with CMA.

Quate held a master’s degree and doctorate from Purdue University. While teaching writing and literature as a professor at the Indianapolis campus of Purdue, Quate was also tasked with founding the student newspaper.

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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.

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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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