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’”

CMR Research Annual Vol. 58 is available

Back it up with data…

From the editor: I saw a photo of an adviser colleague on social media recently, proudly sporting a t-shirt that proclaimed “I BACK IT UP WITH DATA.” This year, College Media Review continues to uphold this sentiment by releasing Volume 58 of the print Research Annual of CMA’s flagship journal.

This past year’s scholarly publications have been compiled into a hard copy as a print-on-demand volume that can be purchased here for $5.

It features a publication by Katherine Fink of Pace University in a study titled “Freedom of Information in College: How Students Learn to File Public Records Requests.” Fink uses a qualitative approach to delve into the process of filing FOI requests and using those results to advance student reporting.

Continue reading “CMR Research Annual Vol. 58 is available”

Research (Vol. 58): The College Newsroom amid COVID

A Statistical Assessment of Advisers and their work in College Newsrooms in 2020

Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, EdD
Florida International University

Elizabeth Smith, EdD
Pepperdine University

Jody Kleinberg Biehl, MA
University at Buffalo

Research Associate: Lillian Abreu, M.S.,
Florida International University


Abstract: This research updates and explores the role and jobs of college newsroom advisers, the context of their work, and the newsrooms they advise. Using a survey (N=332) of student media advisers, the data provide important understandings for college journalism issues that have emerged, or re-emerged, in the past year: COVID-19, diversity, and prior review. Responses show, despite campus closures and some declining advertising revenues, COVID-19 did not halt the work of the vast majority of college newsrooms. On the contrary, data from this survey combined with national trends point to the growing importance of college news media across the nation. As local news outlets decrease, college newsrooms are filling the void.  Open-ended responses revealed anxieties among advisers about how the pandemic would affect newsrooms in the coming academic years, especially regarding budgets and advertising revenue. For the first time, this research collected information on race/ethnicity. Participants were mostly white, although community colleges had the largest group of advisers of color. Responses reveal that 87% of advisers report that they do not edit newsroom content, although responses raise questions about the role that faculty-guided class work plays in newsrooms and how advisers define prior review. Compared to past research, adviser salaries have increased in the past five years and 62% of advisers hold either a faculty or staff title. Overall, salaries have increased 12% among advisers since 2014.

Keywords: college media, student newsrooms, student journalism, newsroom diversity, COVID-19, prior review

Continue reading “Research (Vol. 58): The College Newsroom amid COVID”

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’”

College radio perseveres, adapts to COVID-19 challenges

KZLX’s Nerdmageddon and the owner of a bar named The Pub. From left to right are The Pub’s owner, Jeff Zeller, and then the Nerdmageddon crew: Molly Hauser, Simon Clark, Corie Herzog, and Mckenzie Duval.

It’s not ‘the end of the world’

By Mason Bigler
Special to CMR

Borrowing from Matchbox 20, going to spring break in 2020 was like “waking up at the start of the end of the world” for college radio. Luckily, the world’s not over just yet.

Because of COVID-19, some college stations were abandoned for the spring semester, only on air because of automated systems. Others had to fight for their right to keep student DJs through strict rules and sanitation. As outlined below, some of those rules are still in place, while at other universities, precautions are being relaxed and the radio stations are returning closer to normal. Continue reading “College radio perseveres, adapts to COVID-19 challenges”

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’”

Review of ‘The Diversity Style Guide,’ by Rachele Kanigel

Printed revision and update for the style guide

Reviewed by Carolyn Schurr Levin

Originally a project of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism in San Francisco State University’s journalism department in the 1990s, the “Diversity Style Guide” was a collection of terms from other style guides that existed at the time. That original guide, which was available in PDF form but was never published, was updated and expanded into a searchable website, https://www.diversitystyleguide.com, in 2016. The goal of the website, which is still available and regularly updated, was to “make journalism more inclusive from the classroom to the newsroom.” The website offered “guidance, context and nuance for media professionals struggling to write about people who are different from themselves and communities different from their own.”

While editing the website, Rachele Kanigel, Professor and Chair of the journalism department at San Francisco State University, realized that “there were a lot of issues and context that needed further exploration, and that a book would be a better format for that information.” The result was the book version of “The Diversity Style Guide,” a highly useful and usable tool for students, professors and professional journalists alike. Although published in 2019, what better time to explore this book than now? Continue reading “Review of ‘The Diversity Style Guide,’ by Rachele Kanigel”

Five inaugurations on the front lines with student journalists

Three Doane University students at the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush, the only one of five inaugurals covered by students in which students could get close and actually sit to watch it. The students are, left to right, Amanda (Millard) Memrick, Elizabeth (Zaborowski) Spencer and Jonathan Hoke. (Photo courtesy David Swartzlander)

Bearing witness to democracy on the road presents challenges but pays an enormous dividend

By David Swartzlander
Past President, College Media Association

Attending my first inauguration was a dream come true.

Literally.

After I was hired in 1999 as a journalism instructor at Doane University in Crete, Neb., I was told I had a month to come up with an idea to teach a course for a two-week interval between fall and spring semesters. Students learned through mini-courses on campus or they traveled off-campus for academic reasons.

For days, I searched in vain for an idea. When my head hit the pillow one week before the proposal deadline, I still was clueless.

That’s when I dreamed I attended the 2001 presidential inauguration. And I realized that it happened every four years on Jan. 20, perfect timing for the class. I had my course.

A million dollar view for students from the “cheap seats.” (Photo courtesy David Swartzlander)

Over my 22 years at Doane, I led dozens of students to five presidential inaugurations — from the “hanging chad” election of George W. Bush to the magically historical inauguration of Barack Obama to the “American Carnage” inauguration of Donald Trump. We traveled as one news organization, reporting and sharing stories with students and readers/listeners in Nebraska.

Continue reading “Five inaugurations on the front lines with student journalists”

A pandemic as the unexpected teacher

Finding news in new places during an isolating time

By Susan Coleman Goldstein
Mount Wachusett Community College

“I don’t have any ideas for my next beat.”

This is a common lament, particularly at my school, a small, rural Massachusetts community college, where most of the students enroll in my basic news reporting course to check off an elective. They usually have no desire to enter the journalism field or to even write professionally, unless it’s creative writing.

In the old pre-pandemic days, I relied on our campus for beat ideas. I stood in the classroom and talked about the importance of covering the Student Government Association, for example— “follow the money,” I’d say passionately into faces that usually showed no reaction. But that was okay because then I could take them on a forced field trip, down three flights of stairs to the Student Life Office, where they met Kathy, the woman who gave them the agenda and minutes for the next SGA meeting, the woman who provided contacts to campus clubs, and the woman who supplied background and details about upcoming events.

What about a beat focused on the library? Tutoring services? Advising? The Student Lounge? “Line up! Let’s take a stroll around campus and get to know these people.” Along the way, we often practiced short impromptu interviews in the hallways with passing students. There would be embarrassed laughs, shaky hands taking notes, or the occasional bravado of someone comfortable with talking to strangers, but the lesson was learned: story ideas were everywhere on campus.

Continue reading “A pandemic as the unexpected teacher”

Research (Vol. 58): Freedom of Information in College

How student journalists learn to file public records requests

By Katherine Fink
Pace University
kfink@pace.edu

Abstract: This interview-based study examines the experiences of college journalists who have filed freedom of information (FOI) requests. Sixteen college journalists were asked about specific public-records requests they filed and their feelings about FOI in general. This study finds that college journalists generally learned how to file FOI requests not in the classroom, but rather from their peers. Students filed requests that tended to seek records from their home institutions rather than from other agencies. College journalists were generally optimistic about the potential of FOI to yield newsworthy information, despite that many of their requests went nowhere. College journalists also believed their status as students put them at a disadvantage. Finally, some students recognized that the outcomes of requests were highly situational, based on the records officers handling them.

Continue reading “Research (Vol. 58): Freedom of Information in College”