Welcome to UWIRE's Newest Blog
UWIRE is proud to introduce a blogger who really needs no introduction: Dan Reimold, the former editor of College Media Matters.
Dan's heading up our newest blog: The College Media Beat. Read the first post here.
College Media Beat is temporarily on hold. Check out the latest news from Dan about all-things college media at College Media Matters. 🙂
In a reflective new post on her personal blog, Whit editor in chief Emily Kostic at Rowan University outlines her seesaw mentality toward the paper’s recent gung-ho coverage and editorializing about the school’s student government.
In her words:
Over the past month, The Whit . . . has published several controversial stories about our Student Government Association. It got heated. The Montclarion (the college newspaper at Montclair State University who has been in legal battles with their SGA over similar issues as ours) published an editorial supporting us. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Student Press Law Center were unofficially advising us. It was bad and well…is still unresolved.
The controversy reached fever pitch when we published this editorial— a slamming review of Rowan’s SGA and their practices. It was, to use their word, “harsh.”
I agreed with the publishing of the associated article and editorial the entire week up to its publishing and as soon as the paper the news stand and we hit publish for it to go online, I was immediately hit with regret.
She later wrote it was a campus visit by the fearless authors of The Soprano State, a book exposing corruption at the highest levels in New Jersey, that ultimately swayed her to accept the Whit‘s tough love as a journalistic necessity and to embrace the mantra heading her post: “Don’t Be Scared- Question Authority!”
One of the toughest issues student press outlets face is going after its own. A student newspaper is held up as an outlet for students, by students, making tough love or an outright attack on one of its brothers or sisters in arms something akin to a mother lamb feeding her young to the wolves. (After all, according to stereotype, student media should only be going after school administrators!) The other tough spot for student journos: You often have to look the object of your disaffections in the eye immediately and repeatedly after publication. Kostic mentions that she personally likes several members of Rowan’s student government. For student journalists, especially on small campuses, the reality is that those you wish to feature will often be friends, acquaintances or at least connected to you probably through less than three degrees of separation. As long as the extensive, in-your-face coverage has been accurate and not reached the point of simply being piled on, the Whit should be proud of its efforts.
In a recent editorial, the senior editorial board of The Daily Californian, the independent student newspaper at UC-Berkeley, tsk-tsked both parties involved in Towson University’s Towerlight sex column controversy. According to the write-up, student press freedom, not sex, was the real issue at stake in the “Bed Post” dispute- and the Towerlight editor’s resignation and the Towson president’s financial threats undercut that freedom dramatically for the entire country to see.
One portion of the editorial stated:
Though the pressure on [the former top editor] must have been great, her decision to resign was a mistake. The Towerlight just achieved its independence last year . . . Her resignation, and the column’s discontinuation, demonstrate that the Towerlight, though nominally independent, won’t stand up to the administration in defense of its content.
But more than [the editor], [Towson president Robert] Caret is clearly in the wrong. . . . Caret ought to respect and value the independence of the Towerlight, even if he disagrees with its content. The newspaper is for the students, not the university president, and it’s unfair for him to attempt to impose his personal tastes and preference on an independent media outlet.
The Daily Cal has published the popular “Sex on Tuesday” column since the late 1990s. Separately, here is a new Campus Progress post outlining what it feels is the problem with student sex columns, in response to a Nation piece outlining their virtues.
In a new video clip, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, reflects on his Michigan Daily days. According to Robinson, who served as a co-editor in chief of the paper 35 years ago: “I’ve always said The Michigan Daily is the best journalism education that anyone could ever have. It was the certainly the best I could ever have. I learned about the craft of journalism, but I also learned about the passion and the commitment and the sense of a mission that ultimately drew a lot of us into journalism and sustained us throughout our careers.”
The snippet is part of a larger video series being put together under the direction of standout Daily editor Gary Graca aimed at spotlighting the paper’s significance in the lives and careers of its most distinguished alums. Check it out below!
Student editor resigns over sex column: The Towerlight at Towson University is in serious flux because of Lux, the pseudonymous writer behind the sex column “The Bed Post.” Recent columns have divided the editorial team, incensed the university president, and is causing a media ruckus now that the editor in chief has quit (?!) in the wake of increasing administrative anger. This Baltimore Sun editorial especially says it all: “There may indeed be little journalistic value in “The Bed Post” . . . Aside from its questionable taste, it violated many of the standards student publications traditionally are supposed to teach aspiring young reporters and editors, such as the necessity of judging what is worthy of coverage as news and a willingness to stand behind the facts in a story. . . . [But] it should have been up to the students to come to those conclusions, not have them dictated by lawmakers and university administrators. The first lessons student journalists in a democracy learn should not have to be how to survive under the censor’s arbitrary fist.”
Student paper answers critics of opinion column: Late last week, a Boston University student sounded off in The Heights about the rise in educational and professional opportunities for the disadvantaged and historically underrepresented. It was basically a rip on Affirmative Action. In the student’s words: “The Civil Rights movement is over, and it is time to accept that we cannot artificially accommodate for everyone.” The opinion has spurred a ton of criticism, including some for the Heights itself for publishing such a rancorous piece. Now, the paper is fighting back, defining its role in starting the conversation: “The Opinions section of The Heights is a public forum for this University. This space is reserved for the thoughts, ideas, and arguments of members of the BC community. With this in mind, the pages of our newspaper can be the epicenter of many discussions, particularly the most difficult, which are generally the most necessary. We will never publish any piece with the intention of offending or inciting bitterness, yet we will never shy away from material that may cause heated dialogue.”
Bryan J. Roy is aglow against an early nighttime sky. The University of Arizona student journalist’s name is the most prominent feature of the metropolitan-themed graphic header on his Web site. The portfolio site is an ode to his numerous (and varied!) journalistic accomplishments. The 20-year-old’s most recent, and impressive, addition to the list: a fantastic redesign of the online Arizona Daily Wildcat.
Roy, the Wildcat‘s Web Director, chatted with me recently about the paper’s online reinvention and offers some advice for students seeking to chart a similar path to the online journalism promised land.
Write a six-word memoir of your Wildcat experience so far.
Good preparation. Great exposure. Best people.
How did the paper’s online reinvention play out?
Back in the mid-1990s, the Arizona Daily Wildcat was one of the first college newspapers to buy into this Internet fad. While we’ve faded and fallen behind the curve recently, it was my mission to not only redesign and brand a new online portal, but also change our workflow and way we deliver the news. Of course, there’s no way one single person or idea is going to change a newsroom — it takes a group effort to execute.
What was the toughest part of the experience?
Restructuring workflows are never easy. People are always set in their ways, and believe it or not, those ways aren’t faring too well in today’s information-feasting newsgetters. New this year: Section editors immediately received more duties. Copy editors upload the stories to the web. Our photo editors upload photos and slideshows. Reporters have shown interest in producing video clips to go along with their stories. There’s no easy way to tell somebody they have more responsibilities on top of their regular day-to-day operations. But there’s no easy way to practice journalism either.
Standout redesign memory.
Just the day we went live with our new design. Probably the closest thing to giving birth I’ll ever experience.
What new Web features do you envision being audience hits or journalistically successful?
I visit the Salary Database quite regularly. I doubt I’m alone. It’s cool to see how much our professors earn and where the school is spending our money. Of course our regular video reports adds another dimension to rich content, but the more in-depth enterprise pieces can definitely go viral. I redesigned the Web site this summer in order to best feature our content, photos and multimedia. So far, traffic-wise, it’s been a huge facelift and allows us to brand our product much better than most professional news organizations.
What advice do you have for j-students looking to up their own news outlets’ Web game?
Buy a BlackBerry and communicate with everyone around the clock. This summer my Dad asked me how many hours a week I’ll work with this new position. I laughed and said the Internet rarely turns off. So be prepared to work your a** off.
What is the coolest part about being Web Director of a top college media outlet?
Having the resources that most real papers don’t even have. With the size of our newsroom and staff, there’s no limit as to what we can do. That, along with our market. Our campus of almost 40,000 is pretty big, but multiply that by the number of parents, alums and prospective students that are interested in the UA— that’s a pretty huge audience and a huge reason why a viable web presence is important. Dad loves reading the Police Beat.
You wake up in ten years. Where are you and what are you doing?
The faces of the journalists are younger and younger. The teams at CoPress and Publish2 include new grads and some people who are still in college. Lee Byron graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 2008 and left a job a the New York Times to work with Facebook. Working in college media gives us the opportunity and a great environment to explore our ideas. The question is, how do you do it?
Panelists at the “From Journalist to Entrepreneur” session at the 2009 Online News Association conference in San Francisco say it’s time to stop thinking and start doing. Om Malik, founder/CEO of GigaOM, said this is the best time for young journalists to try out ideas.
“The only option for people in our profession is to take a chance,” he told conference participants Saturday morning. He also said it’s important not to rely on the classroom to learn entreprenuer tools.
“You go to college to be the CEO of Enron,” he said. “You drop out of college to be Mark Zuckerberg.”
While the other panelists didn’t encourage becoming a college dropout as a way to innovate, they also pushed the carpe diem approach.
Ann Grimes, acting director of the graduate journalism program at Stanford University, said it’s important for students to be realistic about their skillset and to work with others who can compliment them.
“You’re not a technologist. You’re not a software coder,” she said. “If you’re a journalist, you probably don’t come from that angle. Let those people deal with that problem.”
The panelists also discussed failure, which is never a fun topic for journalists. However, in the startup environment they stressed that it’s important to fail early and accept failure as just another rite of passage.
“One of the toughest things we’ve seen with our students who have tried to move from reporting to the business side is they think they know the answer,” Grimes said. “You have to take that idea, test it out, come up with a new prototype, go back out, get new feedback and then refine your idea.”
So don’t just sit there, what are you waiting for?