The Most Difficult Story

Covering Suicide on College Campuses

Jena Heath
St. Edward’s University
Brooke Blanton
St. Edward’s University


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Abstract: Student journalists and their faculty advisers face particular challenges when confronted with covering suicide on their campuses. We examine these challenges by analyzing coverage and interviewing student journalists and their advisers about their editorial decisions. The interviews are designed to assess how often college media outlets comply with recommended professional guidelines for covering suicide and to shed light on the decision-making process. The results point to the need to better educate student journalists and advisers about the interpretation and use of these guidelines and to help them navigate pressures to minimize even coverage that conforms with them.

Fundraising efforts lead to strong student experiences

The student media groups at Western Kentucky University and the University of Arizona both benefited from developing powerful relationships with people who cared about safeguarding their student media programs

By Susan Smith
South Dakota State University

Photo By Dave Barger, Creative Commons.

Photo By Dave Barger, Creative Commons.

Several cups of coffee, and strong relationships with a committed alumni base, helped to build a new home for the student publications of Western Kentucky University.

“We focused on not big numbers,” said Chuck Clark, director of student publications.

“We focused on if you could find a way to donate $10 a week – skip two Starbucks – this is what it could buy.”

The School of Journalism and Broadcasting was relocated across campus from the traditional home of WKU’s student publications with no room in the new building for the twice-weekly College Heights Herald and the Talisman Yearbook and specialty publications produced by College Heights Media. Continue reading

REVIEW: Journalism of Ideas: Brainstorming, Developing and Selling Books in the Digital Age”

Daniel Reimold book a journalism textbook and newsroom resource

By Debra Chandler Landis
Managing Editor, College Media Review

It’s time for the news meeting, and the story ideas from the college journalists are lackluster.

“There’s not a lot going on” seems to be the prevailing sentiment.

But, of course, more seasoned journalists would say, “There is always something going on and stories to be told.”

ReimoldBookcoverSpeaking somewhat metaphorically, Daniel Reimold said he wants journalists to “jump and sing about their story ideas.”

Reimold challenges journalists to look below the surface of stories and brainstorm ideas for new coverage—and provides hundreds of ideas from multiple sources  in “Journalism of Ideas: Brainstorming, Developing, and Selling Stories in the Digital Age” (Routledge, 2013).

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For some college newspapers, it’s not digital first. It’s digital only

Economics is a driving force in the digital only transition

By Miriam Ascarelli
New Jersey Institute of Technology

Two words: Digital first.

That was the trend of this 2013-2014 school year as a parade of student newspapers from the University of Missouri Maneater to The Daily Egyptian at Southern Illinois University Carbondale announced plans to scale back print publication days and ramp up their digital presences.

For some newspapers scaling back on print editions, the changes were part of a proactive strategy to stay ahead of the iGeneration, which already lives on the web, according to Bryan Murley, an associate professor of new and emerging media at Eastern Illinois University. But for others, Murley said, digital-first was an imperative motivated by a double whammy: declining ad revenue as national advertisers use social media instead of print ads to target college students and declining print readership as indicated by too many newspapers remaining on racks.

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Combatting stress on the job…

Advisers deploy different strategies to try to maintain a healthy balance in their lives

By Susan Smith
South Dakota State University

Most jobs come with some level of stress, and advising a student media group is no exception. Advisers cope with that stress in a number of ways, from finding a good work/life balance to making sure students are trained to deal with day-to-day crises themselves.

Stress can bring on headaches, cause teeth grinding and mouth sores and contribute to a number of physical ailments including heart disease, according to Web MD.

Physical, emotional and environmental changes all contribute to stress. These stressors, when unmanaged, can begin to cause health problems or make already unhealthy conditions, like high cholesterol, worse, according to Web MD. Stress is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but doctors aren’t sure how stress contributes to the illness.

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A  Journey in College Student Media

 Challenges, Opportunities and Implications for the Future

By Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver
Florida International University

Ever since the publication in 1799 of the first college newspaper, the Dartmouth Gazette, and the founding of the oldest college daily in 1878, the Daily News of Yale University, college student media have attempted to mirror their professional counterparts.

Image courtesy of NS Newsflash

Image courtesy of NS Newsflash

With the First Amendment as a cornerstone, student media throughout history have challenged authority, reported the truth about their campus communities, ensured an accurate portrayal of facts, and sought to provide the public with information they need.

And—importantly—they have served as the foundation for the journalists of the future to train, practice and perfect their craft.

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I’ve graduated… now what?

An outlook of employment opportunities in the mass communication industry

By Kyle J. Miller
Dr. Charles A. Lubbers
University of South Dakota

The employment outlook in any field is dictated by the balance of supply and demand. However, the available supply of college graduates and the demand for the graduates to fill a particular job category in a field can vary greatly.

Table1_DegreesAccording to a 2012 study by Becker, Vlad and Kalpen, 51,784 bachelor’s degrees were granted in the U.S. in 2011, and that number was only slightly larger than the year before.  They also noted that during 2011, 203,561 students were enrolled in bachelor’s programs, a decline of .05 percent from the year before.

Undergraduate students are studying a growing number of specializations within the mass communication field. This reflects changes in the terms used to describe the specializations, as well as a growth in those areas as a result of newer technologies.  As noted in Table 1, journalism, once the dominant specialization in the field, now accounts for slightly less than 30 percent of the students.  The next largest group of students is located in strategic communication programs. Students studying radio/television generally made up 4.9 percent.  Clearly the concentration of students is located in the areas of journalism and strategic communications, with significantly smaller numbers in the telecommunications field.

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Niche publications deliver something for everyone

By Jessica Clary
Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta

-4By nature, all university publications are niche publications. The audience is typically hyper-local, similarly educated and knowledgeable about the same topics. A college newspaper article uses terms and vernacular specific to that college when describing traditions and nicknames.

College newspapers aren’t USA Today, and they shouldn’t be. They should be broad enough to deliver something for the entire campus population.

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Research: Student journalists’ use of student media

Sender-receiver, receiver-sender: A uses-and-gratifications study of student journalists’ use of social media

Vincent F. Filak
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh



Abstract: Uses and gratifications theory posits that audience members select media to satisfy specific needs. Social media, however, have allowed media users to select both media to consume and what media to produce/share.

This study of student journalists (n=285) revealed differences between the importance of specific gratifications in terms of what participants consumed and what they shared.

Vince Filak

Vince Filak

Additionally, the study examines which gratifications were most important in forming a positive attitude toward social media.

Being prepared when calamity strikes…

How College Media Can Plan For the Worst

By Carolyn Schurr Levin

In December 2012, College Media Review reported about the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Pioneer at LIU Post on Long Island, and the College Voice at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey.  Both campuses shut down, students were sent home, power was lost for days and publishing the student newspapers was, to put it mildly, a challenge.

Coping with disaster... Long Island University and Mercer County Community College. Background photo Brian Birke, Creative Commons.

Disaster and emergency planning can help media prepare for the unexpected. (Background photo Brian Birke, Creative Commons).

In the case of the Pioneer, the outside printing company for the newspaper couldn’t have printed the paper even if it had had power; it lost its roof to the storm. The 2012 CMR article, “When Disaster Strikes A College Community,” advised college media organizations to make contingency plans in the event of an unanticipated catastrophe similar to Hurricane Sandy.

Yet, over a year later, an informal email survey of college media advisers suggests that many organizations do not yet have such contingency plans.

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