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.


  • First place and class favorite | Taylor Slifko, Austin Peay State University (Jake Lowary. adviser)
  • Second place | Jack H. Taylor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Wesley Lewis & Caitlyn Zhang, advisers)
  • Third place | Scott Robert Williams, Youngstown State University (Dave Davis, adviser)
  • Honorable mention | Violetta Valeeva, Missouri Western State University (James Carviou, adviser)

THE ASSIGNMENT: Give your friends an opportunity to learn something about Texas too. Your images should show them something about Texas, your visit to the state capital and maybe even your visit to the State Capitol. Make it memorable. Tell me a story. Give me a feel for the great state. Go beyond the superficial. Get out of the hotel and experience what it means to be in Austin and in Texas.

JUDGES: Amy Zerba, Carole Babineaux, Deborah Cannon, Eric Thomas, Griff Singer, Jamie Gilbert, Jeff Grimm, Jim McNay, John Beale, Kathleen Flores, Kelly Glasscock, Lauren Roberts, Mark Zeltner, Matt Stamey, Mickey Osterreicher, Nell Carroll, Nils Rosdahl, Park Street, Pat Gathright, Ralph Barrera, Sam Oldenburg, Shawn Kaplan, Sherri Taylor, Steve Sweitzer, Tara Haelle, Tom Hallaq




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

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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.

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.


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

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Tres años y contando: The evolution of a bilingual student newspaper on a rural campus

Campus journalism that serves a bilingual audience heads into third year

By Marcy Burstiner
Humboldt State University

When I came up with the idea for El Leñador, a Spanish-English student newspaper, at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, I hadn’t spoken Spanish since high school.


Bilingual press serves students at Humboldt State

Moreover, I taught on a campus with one of the least diverse student populations in the California State University System, and my idea came at a time when The Lumberjack, the student-run weekly newspaper I advised, was struggling for advertising revenue. And, the university was looking for programs to eliminate to make up for state budget cuts.

But there were reasons to proceed with this new publication. Among them: The university had been named a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a designation that would make it eligible for new funds, and the Latino student population had doubled as a percentage of the overall student population between 2009 and 2013. At 28 percent, it was now about three times the percentage found in the rest of the county. Humboldt State’s enrollment is about 8,485.

I hoped that for a newspaper for and about the Latino student population, the administration would help me find the money I needed. I teamed up with Dr. Rosamel Benavides-Garb, the chair of the World Languages and Cultures Department, who taught Spanish. We tapped into a fund our dean had for faculty-student research projects and secured small stipends for six students from our two majors to research models for bilingual newspapers.

El Lenador, a monthly that averages six pages, is in its third year. Student Juan Carlos Salazar, a member of the initial research team who directed translation for the first two years, said the mission was daunting at first. Continue reading

CMR Extra — Quick Links

Recommendations fromCMR_arrow26_Rotate CMR’s editor….


Few jobs can be more challenging — or more rewarding — than that of the student media adviser. Walking the tightrope between preparing courageous student journalists and satisfying wary school administrators is seldom easy. The guides below can help advisers navigate those challenges.

SPLC tip sheet for student media advisers

A guide to fighting (and surviving) censorship (Published 08/26/14). Read more

Student media advisers and the law

A legal help guide for surviving what is often the toughest job in a college environment. (Published 09/10/02). Read more.


UPDATE — Dismissed student paper adviser’s replacement is replaced



Online coverage of developing situation at Butler

More changes in the media advising duties on campus as reported by the Butler Collegian online where the replacement for the displaced adviser is replaced.

The College Media Association is dismayed to learn that Loni McKown, the adviser for The Butler Collegian student newspaper and website, has been removed from her advising duties at Butler University. Read more on CMA website.

From the Student Press Law Center


Click SPLC Logo (Above) for Link To Story.

INDIANA — The Butler Collegian’s faculty adviser has been dismissed from her position and replaced with a university spokesman, prompting concerns among the student editors and college media watchers.

Loni McKown, who had just started her sixth year as the student newspaper’s adviser, said she received a letter dated Sept. 4 that said she was no longer the Collegian’s adviser and could not advise any Collegian staff in any capacity. The letter said that if she failed to abide by that directive, she would face additional discipline up to and including termination. Read More at the SPLC website.