Monday, March 31, 2008

UNITY offers opportunities for student journalists

Want to rub shoulders with some of the most respected journalists in the nation? Want to work in a converged newsroom, producing innovative journalism across media platforms? Want to get a free trip to Chicago this summer?

UNITY '08 needs you!

UNITY: Journalists of Color is seeking student journalists to cover the UNITY '08 Convention in Chicago July 23-27. UNITY will pay for the selected student journalists’ meals, travel and lodging.

The UNITY ’08 convention will offer a great opportunity to learn newsroom skills from veterans. The student news team, mentored by professional journalists, will produce a Web site, a newspaper, audio features and short television newscasts. While generating content, students will get training in video, audio production, webcasting, podcasting, and multimedia skills that are now key to building a solid resume.

Founded in 1986, UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. is an alliance of four ethnic journalists associations, which work together as a force for positive change to advance the presence, growth and leadership of journalists of color in the global news industry. Every four years, the four national journalism organizations--the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association--hold a joint national convention.

The 2008 convention is expected to be the largest journalism convention in the world, drawing more than 10,000 reporters, editors, and other media professionals.

All applicants must be:

* Current college undergraduates or graduate students. This includes students who currently attend community colleges and students who will graduate in May/June 2008.

* A member of one of the ethnic journalists associations.

* Available to take part in the program from at least July 20 through July 27, 2008.

* At least 18 years of age by July 20, 2008.

Student members of the Asian American Journalists Association can apply here.

Student members of the National Association of Black Journalists can apply here.

Student members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists can apply here.

Student members of the Native American Journalists Association can apply here.

The application deadline is today, March 31, 2008 but the NAHJ deadline has been extended to April 4.

Coverage of two student deaths raises questions

The Duke Chronicle ran an interesting story last week about differences in news coverage surrounding the deaths of two college students in the Durham-Chapel Hill area in recent months.

Ted Vaden, the public editor of The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. (my former newspaper) followed up with a column yesterday.

The killing of Eve Carson, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student body president, shocked the community. Student and community newspapers ran front-page stories of the crime and national network and cable television covered it. Vigils held in her honor attracted thousands. North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley offered a reward of as much as $10,000 and the UNC Board of Trustees offered $25,000 for any leads in the Carson case.

By contrast, coverage of the slaying of Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato, shot and killed Jan. 18 in his home, was a quiet affair. No rewards were offered in connection with the death of Mahato, an international student from India. A vigil attracted 100 people, according to news accounts.

Vaden's column notes that the killing of another student--Denita Smith, a 25-year-old black graduate student at N.C. Central University who was killed in January 2007--also received relatively little news coverage.

Vaden contends that several important differences in the cases--prominence of the individuals, details of the crime, availability of information from police and other authorities--"explained, if not justified, the varying news coverage."

Certainly, Carson's prominence as an elected official on campus thrust her into a somewhat different news category than Smith and Mahato. But the discrepancies in coverage raise troubling questions all journalists should think about.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Online Pacemaker finalists announced

Associated Collegiate Press announced finalists in the 2008 Online Pacemaker contest today.

Winners will be announced for the first time at the National College Media Convention Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 2008 in Kansas City.

ACP received 155 entries for the 2008 Online Pacemaker contest. The contest was judged by Will Sullivan, interactive director of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"I’m so encouraged to see all the excellent work being done at college papers across the country," Sullivan wrote in a blog post on the ACP site. "I’m even more encouraged that it’s not just at the traditional ‘big name’ journalism schools."

"This was probably the most difficult contest for me to judge in two years," he added. "The quality, design, depth, breadth and timeliness of content being produced at these college publications rivals and sometimes beats that of most ‘professional’ media outlets. I was highly encouraged to see many papers producing podcasts, multimedia, blogs, forums and breaking news on their websites."

The finalists are:

Four-year Daily Newspapers

University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill.
Kathleen O'Connell, editor
Mary Cory, adviser
Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Ill.
Chris Essig, editor
Joe Gisondi/Bryan Murley, advisers
Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.
James Brosher, editor
Nancy Comiskey, adviser

The University Daily Kansan
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.
Brian Lewis-Jones, editor
Malcolm Gibson, adviser

The Daily Orange
Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
Brian Goetsch, editor
Peter Waack, adviser
Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kristen Russo, editor
Carl Schierhorn, adviser

The Daily Collegian Online
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.
Ryan Pfister, editor
John Harvey, adviser

The Shorthorn
University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas
Daniel Johnson, editor
Lloyd Goodman/Chris Whitley, advisers
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
Christopher Ritter, editor
Kelly Wolff, adviser

Four-year Non-daily Newspapers

The State Hornet
Sacramento State University, Sacramento, Calif.
Cody Kitaura, editor
Holly Heyser, adviser

Golden Gate [X]Press
San Francisco State University, San Francisco, Calif.
Aaron Morrison, editor
Jesse Garnier, adviser
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Andrew Nacin, editor
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.
Brian Schlansky, editor
Sigman Splichal, adviser
Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
Brian Luptak, editor
Dan Morris, adviser

The Baker Orange
Baker University, Baldwin City, Kan.
Chansi Long, editor
Gwyn Mellinger, adviser

The Nevada Sagebrush
University of Nevada, Reno, Nev.
Chelsea Otakan, editor
Amy Koeckes, adviser

The Ithacan Online
Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y.
Nic Barajas, editor
Michael Serino, adviser

The Temple News
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.
Sean Blanda, editor
John Di Carlo, adviser

Two-year College Newspapers

The Sun Online
Southwestern College, Chula Vista, Calif.
Esmeralde F. Ramirez, editor
Max Branscomb, adviser

The Clarion Online
Citrus College, Glendora, Calif.
Samantha Bravo, editor
Margaret O'Neil, adviser
Seward County Community College, Liberal, Kan.
Luke Wempe, editor
Anita Reed, adviser

Richland Chronicle
Richland College, Dallas, Texas
Robin Everson, editor
Matt Hinckley, adviser

Magazine/Broadcast/Online-only Publications
University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill.
Dan Newman and Stephanie Praether, editors
Melinda Miller, adviser

North by Northwestern
Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
Tom Giratikanon, editor

Drake Magazine
Drake University School of Journalism, Des Moines, Iowa
Randall Noblet, editor
Kathleen Richardson, adviser

The Daily Gazette
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.
Miles Skorpen, editor

Connect Mason
George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.
Whitney Rhodes, editor
Kathryn Mangus, adviser

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Find sources with

Ever find yourself frantically looking for a source -- an expert on concussions among college athletes, for example, or someone who has done research on grade inflation?

Peter Shankman wants to help. Shankman, who describes himself on his Web site as a "CEO, entrepreneur, adventurist," has launched The idea of this new social networking site is simple: to connect reporters looking for sources with people who have knowledge and something to say.

"I built this list because a lot of my friends are reporters, and they call me all the time for sources," Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique Marketing and PR strategy firm in New York City, says in his introduction to the site. "Rather than go through my contact lists each time, I figured I could push the requests out to people who actually have something to say."

I checked with Shankman about whether he takes requests from students working for college publications. "Of course I do!" was his speedy response.

If you're looking for sources, email Shankman your query, with "QUERY" in the subject line, and he'll post it to his list.

PR Newswire has run a similar service, called Profnet, since 1992, but it has restrictions on student journalists. The service cannot be used for class assignments, only for stories that will be published. And it will only accept queries from students in a university-level journalism program.

Phil Gomes, a VP with Edelman Digital, muses in his blog today on the effect homegrown services like will have on Profnet. "How will ProfNet and its ilk defend its brand when pretty much anyone can/will develop a similar service?" Gomes writes.

Give and try and let me know how it goes. Post a comment here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

10 Tips for Becoming a Wired Journalist

35,000 FEET OVER COLORADO – I’m flying back from New York City, where I moderated two daylong workshops on new media for College Media Advisers last week. After breathing the same air as new media visionary Rob Curley and hearing from other leaders in this field (see earlier post), I’m a little dizzy. And I’m even more convinced than ever that ALL journalists have to get wired or die.

And yes, that applies to you, the 53-year-old reporter calling yourself a “narrative writer” and you, the student who wants to write for magazines and you, the photojournalism educator who left the newsroom 10 years ago and just wants to teach kids to shoot.

Journalists who say “I want to write long magazine features” or “I’m not into the computer stuff” or “I just want to shoot pictures” are destined to find themselves without work.

Face it: We’re all new media geeks now.

With this in mind, here are tips for journalism students, professionals and educators on how to become a wired journalist.

1. Open your mind.
It’s time to toss out your preconceived, 20th century ideas about what it means to be a journalist. Open yourself up to the possibilities of new media. This is not some flash in the pan or even something in the can’t-quite-see-it future. This is the way the media world works now and you better get hip to it.

2. Learn the lingo.
If you don’t know RSS from CMS, look them up. You may feel like you’re studying a foreign language, but if you don’t learn what people are talking about you’re going to find yourself in the dust.

3. Get some training. Virtually any new skill you can add to your journalism toolbox is valuable. The Poynter Institute, the Knight Digital Media Center, the European Journalism Centre, the Center for Innovation in College Media, College Media Advisers and IRFA Newsplex are among the organizations offering new media training for journalists, educators and students. Or get some quality time with your friendly neighborhood geek – the lab monitor at your school, the multimedia professor in your department, your colleague in the computer science department, the database freak at your newspaper.

4. Train yourself. If you think you don’t have the time or money to invest in training (I’d argue can’t afford not to) the Internet, books, tutorials and the help menu that comes along with just about every piece of software will allow you to train yourself. Poynter's NewsU offers free or low-cost online courses in Multimedia Storytelling, Telling Stories with Sound, Online Project Development and other skills. If you can’t figure out how to do a particular thing, post a question to Google. The Internet has the answer to just about any question you could possibly ask – probably even the meaning of life.

5. Invest in equipment.
Even if you see yourself as primarily a writer or editor, being a 21st century journalist means being armed with equipment to record news in a variety of ways. Every journalist should have a digital audio recorder, digital camera and some way of recording video, even if it’s just short video clips on a digital point-and-shoot. Reporters are now shooting photos and videos with their cell phones and posting them to the Web immediately, sometimes before a photographer can even get to the scene of the news.

6. Link up.
Social networking is becoming an increasingly important part of journalism and all journalists should have a presence on a number of sites, especially LinkedIn, but also myspace, facebook, Wired Journalists, Twitter and other sites.

7. Get yourself out there. Even before you enter a newsroom (or, for journalism educators, even after you leave one) you can get your work out there by posting videos to YouTube, photos to flickr, articles to Web sites, posts to blogs. If a potential employer can’t find your work in a Google search (and yes, these have become a routine part of considering a candidate for a job), you don’t exist.

8. Create a Web presence.
If you don’t already have a Web site or blog, it’s time to get one. Register your name – or something close to it – as a domain name at and put some content up there. Every journalist should have at least a resume and some work samples up on the Web. Put up photos, videos, stories, anything you have that can show you have multiple skills and you’re not afraid to use them.

9. Stay current. With new equipment, software and applications being developed all the time, the possibilities for online journalism are literally changing by the day. It can be hard to keep up to date but you have to if you want to survive. To get up to speed, follow the leaders in the field, including the Center for Innovation in College Media, Wired Journalists, Mindy McAdams, MediaStorm,Ryan Sholin, Multimedia Shooter, Rob Curley.

10. Don’t despair. Yes, media outlets and media jobs are disappearing, but it doesn’t pay to wring your hands. Even while old forms of journalism seem to be dying out, new ones are rising, offering new possibilities for great storytelling and truth-sharing. Journalism is not dying out, it’s just changing. As Rob Curley says, “The most important part of the word newspaper is news, not paper.”

Do you have tips, resources or Web sites to share? Post a comment here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Medill may drop the J-word

Is journalism getting to be a dirty word?

Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism is thinking about dropping "journalism" from its name, according to Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn.

"Careful observers have noted the disappearance of 'journalism' at the school since (John) Lavine was named dean in December 2005 and began an aggressive effort to blend the marketing and journalism curriculum," Zorn wrote in last Thursday's column. "The school stationery, like its Web site, now refers simply to 'Medill,' after namesake 19th century Tribune managing editor and Chicago Mayor Joseph Medill."

Other candidates being considered by a committee appointed by Lavine:

  • The Medill School of Audience and Consumer Information

  • The Medill School of Media Arts and Sciences

  • The Medill School of Information and Influence

The committee is supposed to come up with a new name by April.

Zorn's readers offered some suggestions of their own this week, among them:

  • Chicago Reader blogger Whet Moser proposed "The Ministry of Information at Northwestern University."

  • "Grad 74" offered "Northwestern University School of Spin, Puffery, and Propaganda."

  • "Austin Mayor" nominated "Northwestern University's Stephen Colbert School for Truthiness."

  • And "Spector" had a tried and not-so-true idea for renaming a venerated institution: "Macy's."

Do you have a suggestion for Medill's new name? Post it here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Breaking news right now

NEW YORK -- How do you write breaking news for the Web?

Follow the Bloomberg model, said Paul Conley, a media consultant who co-led a workshop on Multimedia Storytelling today sponsored by College Media Advisers.

Conley noted that reporting breaking news on the Web is all about speed and updates. When a news story breaks, Bloomberg starts by posting a headline, usually within seconds of the news happening.

Next, a reporter will write a two-paragraph story, which will be posted within minutes. Then comes a four-paragraph story, which will generally follow this format:

Paragraph 1: Theme – what happened and why
Paragraph 2: Authority – a quote
Paragraph 3: Details – more information
Paragraph 4: Why it matters, what’s at stake

“This is the fastest and easiest way to move to 24/7 publishing,” Conley said. “It’s possible to impose this system tomorrow on your Web site.”

Breaking news should be edited quickly, even with the editor looking over the shoulder of the reporter writing.

“It’s not quite publish first, edit later, but almost,” Conley said. “Since it’s the Web, it’s not permanent.”

Jennifer Ward, assistant managing editor, interactive media, for the Fresno Bee, said her paper covers breaking news with updates of three to four paragraphs posted throughout the day.

“Then we do a write-through at the end of the day or as the story is closing,” she said.

Reporters often file news updates and even photos by cell phone, posting material as an event unfolds. “We just had someone filing text message updates from a funeral,” she said.

Sportswriters provide brief play-by-play reports on games and update a scoreboard on the newspaper’s Web site every time a team scores.

Ward noted that Fresno Bee reporters also use their cell phones to take video on breaking news stories and are often able to post before television reporters can. Two new Web sites, and, allow reporters to post video from their cell phones within seconds.

“It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a decade,” Ward said. “It’s totally changing the way we do things. We’re beating TV. We don’t need a $30,000 video truck to do live video.”

Seventeen student journalists and college newspaper advisers attended today’s workshop, one of 27 “Media Pro” workshops sponsored this week by College Media Advisers.

Some resources for learning multimedia:

J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism
An organization that "helps journalists and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life with projects on innovations in journalism, citizen media, interactive news stories, entrepreneurship, training and research and publications."

A how-to site for community journalism

Journalism 2.0 How to Survive and Thrive
A digital literacy guide for the information age by Mark Briggs, Assistant Managing Editor for Interactive News, The News Tribune

A cheap, easy-to-use program for putting together audio slideshows created by photographer Joe Weiss.

A free, easy audio editing program

A free content management system. Some newspapers, including The Temple News at Temple University, have started to use WordPress to publish online.
(You can read about The Temple News' move from College Publisher to WordPress here.)

Another free content management system

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Study multimedia in Italy, N. Ireland this summer

The Institute for Education in International Media is still accepting applications for its 2008 multimedia journalism programs in Italy and Northern Ireland this summer. The application deadline is March 15; applications that come in after that will be considered on a space-available basis.

I taught in the program last summer and can testify students had a great time and learned a lot about multimedia storytelling.

Students spend four weeks studying digital storytelling, photography, video and Web design and produce a multimedia Webzine about the local community. (For examples of past projects see InCagli and InArmagh.)

The Italian program is based in Cagli, a charming town nestled in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains. The program has come to Cagli every summer since its founding in 2002. In Ireland, students live and study in Armagh on the Irish Republic's border, two hours from Dublin, three from Galway, and one from Belfast.

The program welcomes students from all universities and disciplines.

Highlights of the program:

* Earn six undergraduate credits (through Marquette University) or six graduate units (through Gonzaga University) in communication
* Study with experienced faculty plus top media professionals (3:1 faculty-student ratio)
* Live in furnished apartments in Cagli or a youth hostel in Armagh
* Combine hands-on professional experience with academic learning
* Travel independently on three-day weekends (additional faculty-guided travel opportunities may be available)


Cagli, Italy: 5/27 – 6/24
Armagh, Northern Ireland: 7/22 -- 8/19


$4,999 + airfare for 6 undergraduate credits from Marquette University
$6,500 + airfare for 6 graduate credits from Gonzaga University
Prices are subject to change based on market fluctuations.

For info and application visit ieiMedia or email or

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Colorado State rejects Gannett proposal

A proposed deal between Colorado State University's student-run, nonprofit Rocky Mountain Collegian and the Gannett-owned Fort Collins Coloradoan is off, according to news reports.

"We had one conversation with the university out there," Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell told the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper at Boston University. "They said it's not for us, the paper isn't for sale. End of story."

In January, Colorado State University President Larry Penley sent an e-mail to the campus community confirming rumors that university officials had met with the editor and publisher of The Coloradoan, the local Gannett paper, to discuss a possible partnership. Read more about it in this earlier post.

You can read The Rocky Mountain Collegian's coverage of campus discussions on the future of student media at the university here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New blog on investigative reporting for students

If you're interested in investigative reporting check the Center for Campus Investigations, a new blog created by Marcy Burstiner, an assistant professor of journalism at Humboldt State University.

The blog offers a week-by-week, step-by-step plan for carrying out an investigation at a campus newspaper, from forming an investigative team to outlining the story to developing sources to visualizing the story.

Burstiner, who teaches investigative reporting and advises The Lumberjack at the Northern California university, is collecting investigative projects done by campus newspapers. If you have something to share send it to her at

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Feb. Story of the Month: How She Got That Story

Jessica Chou, the UCLA Daily Bruin photographer who produced The Underground Students, a package of stories, photos and audio slide shows on undocumented students, shared how she got the story in an e-mail interview this week. The package was named February Story of the Month. Chou is a fourth-year history major.

What inspired you to write the series?

What inspired me to start this series and what inspired me to continue it were two different things. I initially found out about the issue when I was shooting the mock graduation protest IDEAS (a support group for undocumented students) held on campus for the Daily Bruin -- and to be honest, I didn't quite know what was going on. But there were certain things that they said in their testimonials that kind of stuck with me -- and in terms of financial struggles, it was something I was able to relate to. So I started paying attention. And I think I always knew that the overall, general immigration debate never quite made sense to me, I just didn't know why. In retrospect, I think the two came together really well -- here was something I can personally relate to, perhaps now the immigration debate can start making some sense.

But being a photographer, and wanting a great photo essay for my portfolio, I started contacting the only name I remembered from the top of my head, Ernesto Rocha (one of the students I covered in my profiles). I had the whole photo essay imagined in my head, and I was going to do it in a week. It was totally shallow. I finally got a response from him a few weeks later, and he told me about a hearing (for the D.R.E.A.M. Act), a radio show, and some rallies he was going to be a part of, and invited me to come along.

I remember when I was at the hearing on May 19th (2007), I was thinking "whoa...okay, there is something going on here...this is REALLY something..." I felt pretty foolish thinking about trying to get my story in a week -- then I really would've been one of those reporters who just wanted a story but missed the whole point.

But what inspired me to continue the story in the way that I did was this issue in itself. Looking at this as an outsider, embarrassingly enough, I was pretty shocked at how these students are “just like us!” Their individual stories and their collective efforts are incredibly humbling, and it only made me realize what our immigration policies are doing to REAL people, and how much of that isn’t reflected in our current immigration debate. It’s easy to talk about solutions in legal and economic terms, but it’s precisely this human value aspect that has made it really hard. It’s an incredibly multi-dimensional issue, and I think I just really wanted to address that part of it, or if it’s already understood, then I want to make sure it’s not forgotten within any discussion of the issue.

Tell us about how you found your sources and got them to open up to you.

I briefly mentioned how I came upon my sources, and it was really through my introduction with Ernesto…and it just started from there. I met more and more students from a lot the political activities that were going on for the D.R.E.A.M. Act. In terms of them opening up to me, it was easy. They were the ones who were talking about the issue. All I had to do was pay attention. I think they saw that, so they were willing to talk more. But if they weren’t already speaking up, I highly doubt there would’ve been a story for me to pursue. It probably helped that I was in some sort of position to make that recognition a bit more public than to just my immediate friends.

What were some of the difficulties you faced in reporting the story?

I think I was just really concerned with making sure that I wouldn’t be victimizing these students. The stories shared can be so overwhelming sometimes that it can be hard to look past the difficulties they are facing, but the point is that they were doing something about. When you’re reporting about a community of people, you’re not only presenting them to the public, you’re representing them as well, whether you like it or not. I wanted to make sure the story would present and represent them in the most honest light possible, victimizing them wouldn’t have done that.

You shot photos and wrote the stories. Talk about the challenges of doing both.

I think with photos, you’re able to make decisions after you shoot and look at how your story will materialize -- you see the story as you go along. In writing, at least to me, you kind of have to have that ready in your head: observed, digested and ready to explain…totally not me. That was a pretty weird twist trying to do both, but the decision for me to write the stories didn’t come until the end.

It only took me a week to write the stories (in comparison to photographing and interviewing the students for almost a year), but it felt painfully slow. It was also my first time writing, so I was pretty nervous-- thank goodness for my uber-talented editor, Robert Faturechi, who actually wrote the investigative piece on the preferential treatment at UCLA’s orthodontics program which I believed was featured as story of the month on your blog. I think he would be the common denominator for successful stories.

In terms of photographing and interviewing the students during the year…the challenges were really about judgment calls. Do you put your camera down now? Is it appropriate for me to follow this person here? Should I give this person some space before I approach him/her again? You just feel for it as you go I guess. But hands down, I still I like photographing better.

Anything else you'd like to say?

I guess I just want to say that I’m really glad that the story received the attention that it did, and that people are not looking at this issue lightly. There are many other students facing similar challenges, and these were just particular situations of a collective struggle. All the students who I have talked to, but weren’t profiled, helped me immensely in understanding this.

I also don’t think I could’ve have finished this if it weren’t for Robert, my editor, and Alene Tchekmedyian, the online assistance editor -- who stayed up for two days straight helping me produce the audio slideshows. They definitely grounded me in making sure I knew what I wanted out of the package, and it was way more than a one man effort that these stories came out.

Has your newspaper produced a great series, story, photo story, multimedia or interactive graphic you want to share with others. Submit it for Story of the Month consideration by e-mailing it to Keep in mind this is not a contest; it's simply a way to highlight examples of innovative, investigative and in-depth student journalism.