Adapting to the changing media landscape

The Story of The Blue Banner

By Sonya DiPalma and Michael E. Gouge
University of North Carolina at Asheville

Abstract: This paper chronicles the obstacles encountered by the advisor and staff of a small college newspaper attempting to make the paradigm shift from a traditional weekly college newspaper to a multiplatform system. The traditional college print newspaper runs the risk of becoming antiquated as more young adults seek news from digital and social media platforms (Hubbard 2011; Beaujon 2012; The demographic 2012). Within this case study, the authors discuss the growing need for academic departments to abandon “silos” within mass communication in order to embrace the multiplatform approach to reporting and the strategic use of social networks to attract a college audience. While college students embrace social networks as the primary fountain of knowledge, the adviser and staff question how best to achieve a social identity for their college newspaper.


For generations, working on the college newspaper was a training ground for aspiring journalists and editors. The skills learned on campus translated directly to entry-level positions that graduates enthusiastically filled. Cuts in newsroom staff have meant increased opportunities for college interns who often find themselves in the role of teacher for less technology savvy reporters (Thornton 2011).  Increasingly newspapers seek interns possessing web and multimedia skills as well as strong writing skills (Wenger 2011). Keeping pace with the dramatic changes experienced in newsrooms across the country presents a challenge for college newspapers, particularly college newspapers at small colleges. Continue reading Adapting to the changing media landscape

College newspapers: Not just for journalism students

The culture of student media at specialty schools

By Jessica Clary
Savannah College of Art and Design

Illustration by Barry Lee
Illustration by Barry Lee

College student media groups are an integral part of the university experience at every school, and students have many reasons for getting involved. Whether it’s for career experience, or just for fun, students from all different majors and programs come together through student newspapers, magazines, radio stations and more. But what about students at colleges where journalism isn’t a major? What about specialty colleges, like art schools?

While some students going to art colleges to escape certain parts of the university experience (sports, Greek life or something else), plenty don’t want to give up any of the activities and opportunities available at larger universities. Student media programs at art colleges are thriving across the country, and while some students involved may never use their student media experience in their pursuit of their dream career, plenty will, and have. Continue reading College newspapers: Not just for journalism students

Diversifying your student media department

Why you should recruit non-communications majors for campus media, and how to get started

By Allison Bennett Dyche
Assistant Director of Student Media, Savannah College of Art and Design

Maybe your university doesn’t have anything resembling a journalism department. Or maybe you do, but those students are historically lazy and impossible to recruit and retain on staff for more than a year.

You don’t have to wait around for your journalism/communications/writing majors to get to their senior year, realize they don’t have a portfolio and are staring down the barrel of an impending graduation to join your staff out of desperation. So how do you convince students from other majors to not only see the value in student media, but to believe enough in what you do to actually become part of your staff?

Amanda Permenter Garlow was recruited for the newspaper staff by her freshman orientation adviser at Georgia Southern University. The double major in English and writing & linguistics ended up holding three section editor positions at the campus newspaper, The George-Anne, and serving as editor-in-chief of it for two years before she graduated in 2005. Continue reading Diversifying your student media department

Social Editing: Using Facebook groups to improve news content

Exploring the social media site as a collaborative tool

By Lindsey Wotanis, Ph.D.
Marywood University

Facebook. It’s a social phenomenon and even an obsession for some, particularly among young people. An estimated 48 percent of adults between 18 and 34 check Facebook when they wake up, with 28 percent doing so before even getting out of bed, according to Facebook Statistics, Stats & Facts For 2011 | Digital Buzz Blog.

Afton Fonzo, social media editor, and Justin Wahy, multimedia editor, review content requests during a Wood Word editorial meeting. (Photo: Lindsey Wotanis)
Afton Fonzo, social media editor, and Justin Wahy, multimedia editor, review content requests during a Wood Word editorial meeting. (Photo: Lindsey Wotanis)

In 2011, the Pew Internet and American Life project reported that 86 percent of undergraduates were using social networks.  In classrooms and dorm rooms across the country, students are updating statuses, “liking” photos, and accepting invitations to the next Friday night party.

And, almost as soon as Facebook started gaining popularity, researchers began studying the impact its use among undergraduates would have on things like academic performance.  Studies like this one at The Ohio State University report that students who use Facebook tend to have lower GPAs and spend less time studying.

But it’s not all bad news. After all, at least we know where students’ attentions are. They’re on Facebook, and as they say, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”



Doing Social Justice Journalism

Why social justice journalism?

By Jeff Jeske
Guilford College

Social justice reporting has distinguished American journalism nearly from its beginnings. Noted practitioners have included William Lloyd Garrison (civil rights), Dorothy Day (poverty), Nelly Bly (asylum conditions), Ida Tarbell (worker’s rights), Upton Sinclair (factories), and later, Rachel Carson (environment), Jessica Mitford (prisons) and William Greider (globalization’s effects on workers).

As the “fourth estate,” journalism has long played a watchdog role with respect to government’s legislative, executive and judicial branches. Should it not also explore the human cost of government policies? Certainly journalism has rich potential for such work.
Continue reading Doing Social Justice Journalism

Tarleton State students lead coverage in national story

Collegians cover “American Sniper” murders

By Sarah Maben

When a former Navy SEAL sniper and his vet friend are shot in your proverbial backyard, you hope the student journalists will mobilize to cover the going-to-go national story and forgo that Super Bowl party.

TNSsnipercoverage(1)“All of our reporters are at church” is how Sunday morning began when Texan News Service adviser Dan Malone called my house. The news conference about the murder of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield was scheduled for 2 p.m., and we were eager to help students with the unfolding story.

Continue reading Tarleton State students lead coverage in national story

Student and professional journalists dealing with restrictions on sports coverage

By Frank D. LoMonte
Executive Director, Student Press Law Center

Fueled by billions in television and licensing revenues, college athletic departments are increasingly stiff-arming journalists by restricting access to practices and games. Meanwhile, media industry leaders are looking for ways to respond.

MugLogo_LoMonteThe start of football season in August 2012 brought a wave of new restrictions on journalists—professionals and students alike—who cover college athletics. Threatening to revoke press credentials or close practices, coaches at several schools, including the University of Southern California, Washington State University and the University of North Carolina, ordered journalists to refrain from reporting on player injuries observed during practices.

In recent years, colleges and athletic conferences have become increasingly assertive about controlling how media organizations use the information and images they gather at sporting events. Continue reading Student and professional journalists dealing with restrictions on sports coverage

College media considered variety of ethical questions in 2012

By Daniel Reimold, Ph.D.
University of Tampa

Who owns the content published by campus media: the outlets that publish it or the students who create it?  What should you do when sources want to review their quotes?  What are the ethics of email interviewing?  And how do you determine when content is controversial or graphic enough that readers deserve a warning?

MugLogo_ReimoldThroughout the past calendar year, the student press faced these ethical questions and a number of others.  Some were especially intense.  Others were multimedia-specific.  And still others played out in real time.

The quandaries, debates and ultimate decisions serve as potential roadmaps for other student staffers and advisers who may deal with similar dilemmas in 2013.

In that spirit, here is a sampling of student press ethical scenarios or decisions in 2012 worth mulling over.  The bottom line: In each case, with the facts presented, how would you respond? Continue reading College media considered variety of ethical questions in 2012

Live-blogging: A way to engage students, readers

A Case Study From Texas

By Sarah Maben and Dan Malone

Editor’s Note: Today’s college students probably expect immediacy more than any generation before them. Live-blogging by college media can help meet such expectations. It can also be a means for attracting readers, who enjoy feeling as if they are part of an unfolding story, according to Sarah Maben and Dan Malone, assistant professors in the Department of Communication Studies at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Malone is the adviser for Texas News Service, Texan TV News and Cross Timbers Trails magazine. Maben mentors student journalists and serves with Malone on the student publication board. Here, they describe Tarleton State student journalists’ forays into live-blogging, what occurred, and what might be next for live-blogging by student journalists at Tarleton State.

Once the Texas News Service began using a live-blogging system, more student journalists volunteered to cover events. Continue reading Live-blogging: A way to engage students, readers

Florida A&M officials announce new adviser for spring semester 2013, say they didn’t censor

The Famuan situation

By Debra Chandler Landis
Managing Editor, College Media Review
Student Publications Adviser, University of Illinois Springfield

Florida A&M University officials insist they weren’t censoring student journalists when they postponed publication of The Famuan for two weeks the month of January 2013 and required student editors who thought they had jobs for spring semester to reapply.

The decision to take these actions, university officials told the College Media Review and other media and media law organizations, stemmed from a libel suit filed in December 2012 against The Famuan and the university. The suit, brought by Keon Harris, says, in part, that the student newspaper wrongly reported that he had been suspended from Florida A&M because of his involvement with the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. Continue reading Florida A&M officials announce new adviser for spring semester 2013, say they didn’t censor