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”

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”

Survey: College media continue despite pandemic

‘State of College Media’ survey results.

Special to College Media Review

Ninety-four percent of college media outlets continued production during the COVID-19 pandemic amid campus shutdowns and restructuring operations to work virtually, according to the results of CMA’s 2020 benchmarking survey.

The fourth annual “State of College Media” survey provides a snapshot of what college media operations face and also identifies industry trends. Approximately 135 CMA members nationwide completed the survey, which was distributed electronically on June 4, 2020.

The survey was sent to all 635 CMA members. This yielded a 44% open rate and a 34% click through rate. A follow-up reminder on June 16 had a 41% open rate and a 20% click through rate. Results were released on June 26, 2020. With a total of 135 members participating, the overall response rate is 21%.

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College media reporting during a tumultuous spring

Community College student newspapers illustrate publishing trends

By Richard Cameron
Cerritos College

What types of stories do community college student newspapers publish on their online sites in a typical semester/quarter? That was the original purposed of a content review of 46 California community college student publications conducted for the spring 2020 term.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” Sherlock Holmes, “A Study in Scarlett” (Arthur Conan Doyle)

Of course, the spring 2020 term turned out to be anything but typical as COVID-19 caused a mid-term shutdown of campuses and a shift to remote instruction. While not intended, the bifurcated study was fortuitous in timing, however, as it appears all campuses will start a new academic year with remote instruction, indeed the whole academic year may be remote.

Slightly less than 40% of California’s 119 community colleges offer associate degrees in journalism, and an important component in those degrees requires course work on the student publication. Forty-six have online publications. The colleges offer multiple levels of enrollment in publication courses, from beginning to advanced, and nearly all combine up to four levels of courses into one newspaper staff, so the mix of experience on a given staff varies greatly from campus to campus. Continue reading “College media reporting during a tumultuous spring”

COVID19: Telling ‘The story of why’

Using a health equity lens to cover COVID-19 in minority communities

By Lyndsey Brennan
Kent State University

For the media to cover the effect of the coronavirus on minority communities in a way that is just, journalists must frame stories using a health equity lens, said Nicole Bronzan, senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Bronzan addressed about 60 Dow Jones News Fund interns and their supervisors in a May 27 webinar. 

Bronzan, who worked as an editor at The New York Times before directing communications for nonprofit organizations, said reporters should apply two major principles when covering these communities:

First, journalists should focus on the reasons situations aren’t equitable. “You have to start [the story] with the problem because people don’t always know about it,” Bronzan said. “But don’t stay there. Don’t let that be all the story is about.”

If journalists are reporting a statistic that says black people are three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people, they should dig into the underlying causes—such as access to affordable and stable housing and good jobs with fair pay—that led to that disparity in health. Continue reading “COVID19: Telling ‘The story of why’”

Shoot-out participants continue despite COVID-19

11 photojournalists document city in crisis

Everything was pretty much ready to go for this spring’s Shoot-out in New York City. Then, as with so many other things, along came COVID-19 and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York issued a ban on meetings of more than 500 people.

“The spread of this coronavirus is not going to stop on its own, and we know that mass gatherings have been hotspots for the virus to infect large numbers of people quickly,” Cuomo said.

Under the guidance announced by Cuomo, most gatherings of more than 500 people were banned, including the College Media Association conference.

“Mr. Cuomo’s decision to limit gatherings of more than 500 people was an especially heavy blow to the theater industry, a crown jewel of New York City’s tourist trade. Last season, the industry drew 14.8 million patrons and grossed $1.8 billion,” according to an article in The New York Times March 12.

Quickly, the conference evolved and Saturday sessions, including the critique of the Photo Shoot-out led by Jack Zibluck, were moved to Friday. Otherwise, it continued as normal with 11 participants. Continue reading “Shoot-out participants continue despite COVID-19”

The Big Story: Uncharted territory

Pepperdine group
Students at the March 12 impromptu banquet, one-day after university officials announced they were moving to remote classes for the remainder of the semester.

College newsrooms shift focus amid coronavirus pandemic concerns

By Elizabeth Smith and Courtenay Stallings
Pepperdine University

“This is big.” That was the reaction of Graphic News Editor James Moore when Pepperdine University announced seven weeks ago the suspension of its international program in Shanghai, China, as COVID-19 spread across Asia. Over the next six weeks, as the virus spread across the world, the university eventually suspended all seven of its international programs and closed the Malibu campus, moving to all-remote instruction. James was right— it was big.

Over the past few weeks, university presidents have announced campus closures in rapid succession. While these closures pose unprecedented challenges for classrooms and campuses, they are uncharted territory for student newsrooms, too.

Continue reading “The Big Story: Uncharted territory”