Review: ‘Dynamics of Media Writing: Adapt and Connect’

Book finds common ground among writing styles for print, web, promotions, advertising and marketing

By Lindsey Wotanis
Marywood University

Anyone who has taught a required basic news writing and reporting course that serves as a core requirement for all communication majors—from journalism students to those in public relations, advertising, marketing, or even film—has likely heard the familiar groan, which is usually followed by a question like:

dynamics of media writing“Why do I need to take a news writing course if I’m studying for a career in marketing?”

The answer: Because in order to work well with others and achieve specific writing goals, media professionals need to understand the style and mission of their colleagues’ writing goals.

Beginning students often just don’t get it, but media writing teachers like Vince Filak do. Filak must have been sick of explaining this notion to students—and sick of hearing his colleagues groan about all the groaning—because he’s just published a new textbook called “Dynamics of Media Writing: Adapt and Connect” from CQ Press which is likely to help alleviate the frustration.

Continue reading

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

Ron Spielberger was ‘Mr. CMA’

Colleagues praise former director’s contributions to college media and the CMA

From CMR staff reports

Ron_SpeilbergerRon Spielberger — called “Mr. CMA” by many admirers — has died, the College Media Association announced today.


Click to open link with Memorial Park Funeral Home

“We are heartbroken to hear of Ron’s passing,” Kelley Lash, CMA president, said. “Ron was the consummate gentleman, a kind soul and a wealth of information, advice and support.”

Spielberger served as CMA’s executive director for almost three decades, 1982-2011, CMA’s longest serving executive director.


Ron Spielberger, a prolific contributor to CMR, was the cover choice as he capped nearly three decades of service to CMA. Click for link to 2011 tribute article. (Photo: Bill Neville)

Spielberger was a frequent contributor to College Media Review, often contributing research articles that were the results of a long time collaboration with former CMA President Lillian Kopenhaver as they gathered information and explored the impact of college media programs nationwide.

“Serving CMA as executive director for nearly three decades, Ron was the face of CMA for many, working behind the scenes to make sure the spotlight was focused on issues of importance and on the work of others,” said CMR Webmaster Bill Neville, former CMA treasurer. “He seemed to treat CMA like family, knowing families squabble at times but still pull together for the good of all.”

In the executive director position, he coordinated numerous fall and spring conventions, summer workshops and other association events. After leaving the position, he continued to serve CMA by chairing the Hall of Fame committee, serving on the advisory council and presenting sessions.

Spielberger with CMA President Kelley Lash

Spielberger with CMA President Kelley Lash

“If you asked Ron Spielberger what his job was with College Media Association, he’d smile and say, ‘I’m in the making people happy business,'” Neville added. “Ron made it look easy. Juggling the needs of members, convention management, and innumerable behind the scenes details often taken for granted, while remembering that our members are advocates for the student journalists we serve. Ron did what he set out to do — he made people happy.”

Continue reading

A remembrance: Patricia Roberts

Elisabetta Zengaro and Patricia Roberts. (Photo: Matteo Zengaro)

Elisabetta Zengaro and Patricia Roberts. (Photo: Matteo Zengaro)

Delta State’s adviser loses battle with cancer

 By Elisabetta Zengaro and Debra Chandler Landis
Special to College Media Review

While the late Patricia Roberts battled ovarian cancer, she also fought for college journalism at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.

She did both with grit and grace, and her journalistic legacy continues, say those who knew her.

Roberts, 66, adviser to The Delta Statement student newspaper and the university’s sole journalism professor, died Dec. 7 from complications from chemotherapy. A memorial service was held at the Bishop-King Funeral Home in Lake Village, Arkansas, on Dec. 11.

In spring 2015, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved the discontinuation of five academic programs, including journalism, communications/theater studies, and modern foreign languages, at Delta State University.

The university also decided to eliminate money for printing of The Delta Statement.

Roberts told the Student Press Law Center, Huffington Post and other media organizations the plan to eliminate the journalism program was announced after a Statement story about a lawsuit a former Division of Languages and Literature chairman filed against Bill LaForge, Delta State University president. However, LaForge denied the move was retaliatory, and said the $1 million budget cuts were university-wide.

Throughout it all, Roberts never lost hope. Continue reading

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

CMR Extra — Quick Links

CMR_arrow26_RotateA multitude of educative, thought-provoking posts, blogs and stories have emerged in the wake of the incidents this week at the University of Missouri that resulted in the resignation of top administrators and a vigorous debate on the First Amendment  The insights can aid college and professional media looking to hire more diverse staffs and considering ways to improve news coverage. The New York Times collected varying view points in this discussion.

From the Washington Post:

“Mass media professor under fire for confronting video journalist at Mizzou” at

“There’s a good reason protesters at the University of Missouri didn’t want the media around” at

From the Columbia Journalism Review:

“Why journalists have the right to cover the University of Missouri protests,”

From the New York Times:

A Lesson in Journalism at the University of Missouri

From the Los Angeles Times:

 University of Missouri names black administrator with civil rights background as interim president

Research (Vol. 53): Convergent media on campus

A study of campus media organizations’ convergence practices

 By Lindsey Wotanis, Ph.D.,
Janice Richardson, B.A.,
and Bowei Zhong, B.A.
Marywood University

Convergence polychrome (cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine)

Convergence polychrome (cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine) by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via Flickr Creative Commons

Abstract: Scholars disagree on how to define “media convergence,” but in the past 15 years, literature suggests many newsrooms have shifted toward convergence, and they’re looking to hire journalists who understand it. Many university journalism programs have updated their curricula to emphasize convergence. However, students often learn journalism best by practicing it at campus newspapers, television and radio stations, or on web platforms. This paper asks: Are college media organizations practicing convergence? Researchers surveyed 142 campus media advisers to learn about convergence practices in campus newsrooms. Findings show that while half of advisers report their campus media organizations are practicing convergence, most are only practicing cross-platform publishing. Findings also suggest a correlation between campuses reporting converged media organizations and those reporting convergence-focused curricula.

Continue reading

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

The nuts and bolts (and more) of redesign in a collegiate setting

“Redesign. The mere word can strike fear into a veteran adviser.”

By Ron Johnson
Indiana University

The adviser to The Maroon, said he was looking to give the newspaper a boost.

Michael Giusti, Student Media Adviser at Loyola University New Orleans, said the newspaper had a strong tradition, but it was time for an upgrade.

Before the redesign: "Crackdown on alcohol," The Maroon, Loyola University, Feb. 21, 2014.

Before the redesign: “Crackdown on alcohol,” The Maroon, Loyola University, Feb. 21, 2014.

After the redesign: "Smoke signals," The Maroon, Loyola University, May 2, 2014.

After the redesign: “Smoke signals,” The Maroon, Loyola University, May 2, 2014.

“We have traditionally done well in many areas — ones that I am personally strong in as a professional journalist — writing, editing, story selection,” Giusti said.

“But we were missing the whole package. We found that people didn’t tend to consume that great coverage because they weren’t drawn to it.”

Design was the piece that would pull it all together, Giusti said. “But I wasn’t the guy to lead it. I joke that when it comes to design, I am a technician, not an artist.”

Well, I’m no artist, either, but I signed on to help the folks at The Maroon in spring 2014. From advising my own newspaper staffs at three universities of different sizes, I knew the potential. I also I knew the pitfalls. Continue reading

CMR Extra — Quick Links

CMR_arrow26_RotateThe Plot Against Student Newspapers? David R. Wheeler, University of Tampa, published a piece in The Atlantic on how college media organizations always seem to be targets of the ire of officialdom. At many colleges, budding journalists and their advisers are still fighting for freedom of speech.

Crossing boundaries: A journalist chronicles her friendship with a serial killer – Columbia Journalism Review. Vew it here

The critical moment. How a reporter captured the moment a fifth grader found out she was HIV positive – Columbia Journalism Review. You can view it here

Why aren’t there more minority journalists? Columbia Journalism Review pece examines diversity in the journalism classroom and  transition into the workforce.