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Brian Manzullo, late of the Central Michigan University Central Michigan Life student newspaper, has written a thought-provoking blog post with the enticing title: Three things I dare journalism students to do before they graduate. Hey, it’s a dare, right? So I’m going to piggy-back on Brian’s post and propose that j-profs engage in these activities as well. This post is specifically *not* geared toward administrative staff or students involved in campus media on the student services side of the spectrum, although the thoughts could be adapted to serve those readers as well.
1. Propose major curriculum adjustments to your journalism school – and get support:
Some of my own thoughts: I’m sick of seeing online media as an option, or a track, in the journalism degree. Online media should be a requirement. Media law should still be a class, but it also should be taught to various degrees in other classes. Social media should be taught, but as a universal topic (because who knows what we’ll be using 3-4 years down the road). Experience at a student newspaper or internship should count as credit.
I’m happy to say that Eastern Illinois University‘s journalism department overhauled part of its curriculum two years ago to require all journalism students have a basic class in multimedia reporting. I agree with Brian’s sentiments there. In fact, I’d say any journalism school that isn’t requiring a course in multimedia reporting at this stage of the game is doing a disservice to its students.
If your journalism department doesn’t require a course in multimedia reporting (at least hyperlinking, blogging, audio and video-based reporting), you need to be pushing for that requirement.
Unfortunately, academic bureaucracy moves slowly, so it may take a couple of years for the course and curriculum to be approved. But every delay puts you that much more behind the curve.
Brian’s second point hints at integration of skills into other classes. This is more problematic, as there are several hurdles that must be overcome. First, many classes are already packed with material. When I taught beginning newswriting, we never finished covering all the topics that were covered in the textbook. Adding multimedia/social media skills to that mix will be a challenge. Also, professors may not feel comfortable with the software/terminology or what constitutes “good” work in these areas.
At Eastern, we have a campus technology center that provides tutorial classes for students across campus on some basic computer programs. If you’re tasked with trying to integrate “new” media into your class, you might check and see if your campus provides similar opportunities. This fall, I’m requiring my multimedia students to attend a tutorial class on basic Final Cut Express skills, for instance.
For a basic writing class, instructors could – at the very minimum – require students to submit a certain number of hyperlinks to related content with all of their stories.
Other ways to integrate new media into another class can be as elementary as creating a class wiki, or requiring students to write blog posts, or following certain politicians or celebrities on Twitter and study the ways these individuals use the platform.
2. Form a news startup online and compete with the student newspaper:
This is a bit more tricky for some professors who also serve as advisers to student newspapers (like several of our faculty at Eastern). When do you stop encouraging students to innovate and explore new avenues of coverage and start cannibalizing your other media outlets?
Joe Gisondi, a colleague at Eastern, had an interesting twist on this last year in his sports reporting class. Rather than compete with the Daily Eastern News by having his students do stories about Eastern athletics, he set up a site specifically for the local high school. The students got to experience online sports coverage in a way that didn’t directly compete with the campus sports writing staff.
Obviously, on a larger campus, with more j-students, an online site that competes with the campus media outlets might be much less of a conundrum. Either way, engaging students to think like entrepreneurs is a good thing. And crossing the professor/student divide to collaborate on such a project can have myriad intellectual benefits for all parties involved.
3. Form a network of students that meets regularly to discuss readings and projects:
It’s simple: Get a group of awesome young journalists together (and maybe a professor or two, if you’re so inclined) and think of a good time during the week where everyone can spend one to two hours in a room together.
I would amend Brian’s proposal a bit and suggest that you form a network of forward-thinking journalists (professors and students) to meet regularly and discuss readings and projects.
I have benefited tremendously from my interactions with the CoPress gang, for instance (at one point they were meeting weekly on Sundays). And at times, I’d like to hope that I’ve challenged their thinking enough that they considered some things that you might not see from a student’s perspective.
This could be a problem if students use the time to complain about professor so-and-so’s lecture style, or a class project deadline.
But if the focus is really on improving the educational environment, and growing through the inclusion of different, challenging ideas, then I think both professors and students could benefit from a group like Brian suggests. Brian also has some great suggestions for different activities that could be included in such a group.
We’re all in this together
At times, I get disheartened when I see blog posts like the one I’m responding to, because I get a sense that students think journalism professors are all about hindering the progress that could be made if only the students could shake things up. There is – undoubtedly – some of that. But I’ve experienced the opposite effect at times as well – students who are too set in their print/tv/radio ways to really embrace the myriad ways the Internet can improve journalism.
It’s not an either/or proposition. I know many journalism professors who are earnestly working to better j-education, just as are many students. And I tend to think we’d get farther if we could work at this together to break through whatever barriers exist in the minds of other j-profs, j-students, or j-pros.
Are there other things j-students and j-profs might be doing beyond those listed above? Please feel free to comment.
Suzanne Yada, formerly of the San Jose State Spartan Daily (which is now housed on a “portal” site for SJSU media), offers advice for college journalists: reporters, editors, designers and online editors.
The entire list is worth a read, and too detailed for an excerpt to do it justice. Go read the whole thing.
A few weeks ago, a group of college news web editors and a couple of advisers got together to discuss content management systems. The result is CoPress.
From the about page:
Student newspapers, at colleges and universities, fare no better than the pros. In fact, theyâ€™re generally worse off. Few student publications have much technical talent at all on staff, and what they do have is spread very thin. Most are stuck with bad content management systems â€” either clunky commercial products or simple blogging tools â€” that take much hacking and â€œprogrammingâ€ to fit the complex needs of a modern news Web site. As a result, developers spend inordinate effort fighting their CMSes, leaving minimal time to innovate on top of the platforms or build engaging online material. To date, most publications have struggled individually to reinvent the wheel.
They’re trying to reinvent the wheel with a new cms. Per the comments, Daniel Bachhuber points out that they’re not developing a new cms, but trying toÂ gather info to make an informed decision on a cms. Read his comment for more explanation. That’s a tall order, but it’s an interesting development that sprung from the ground up.
They are in the process of collecting data from a survey of college newspaper web sites. Be sure and contribute to the data set if you are an adviser or an editor for your college newspaper. Follow the developments on the web site.
August 25, 2008 in Student voices
UWire has connected with the Washington Post and CBS to produce YouthVote08 (Washingtonpost.com version and CBS.com version), a site that features contributions from about 50 college journalists around the country. The site will be busy over the next two weeks with the conventions.
Check it out.
The Spartan Daily’s live video experiment worked.
We put a big teaser on the front page of the paper today so students would know about it and then I put a brief notice in as a multimedia article on our site, so it was included in our RSS feed and e-mail edition. When it was time for the video to begin, I put the ustream embed code in the story and made it a breaking news story so a link to it showed up on every page on the site. I also recorded it, both in ustream and on a tape in the camera. After the meeting was over, people can watch the ustream recording, and I am uploading the higher quality version into our regular video player.
Check out Kyle’s comments here.
During the CICM/CMA New Media sessions in New York, I got to participate on a panel with Tori Saulnier, editor in chief of the Campus Lantern at Eastern Connecticut State University. Tori’s remarks about the Campus Lantern’s transition to an online-only publication are worth hearing, even if you’re just looking for ways to make your online presence more relevant on campus. Fortunately, Adam Hemphill recorded her remarks, and she’s agreed to share them via our blip.tv channel. It’s about an 8-minute clip.
Tori Saulnier, editor in chief of the Campus Lantern at Eastern Connecticut State University, speaks to advisers and students during a session at the Spring National College Media Convention in New York. The Campus Lantern was the first college student newspaper to abandon its print edition for online-only distribution in 2006.
Camera by Adam Hemphill
UPDATE (9-17-07): Link to Campus Lantern site fixed.
Editor’s Note: The University Press at Florida Atlantic University has been hard at work this semester reinventing their web/print delivery methods. I asked adviser Michael Koretzky to see if he could get some students to share their experience of the overhaul. Their words follow. I want to share this as an example of how a weekly print publication can use the strengths of the web to complement their print edition. It’s a great idea for more college newspapers to experiment with. And if you’re already doing something similar, by all means, drop me an e-mail and share your experiences at scmurley -at- gmail.com. For the CMS, the front page is a Dreamweaver overlay page, with the guts in College Publisher. Koretzky says: “So the homepage is built and updated in DreamWeaver, while the current issue and daily web stories jump to CP.”
HARD AS HELL, FUN AS HELL
By UP staff
Today marks the 50th day of FAUâ€™s new student media website. If the next 50 days donâ€™t get any easier, we wonâ€™t make it past 100.
After perusing every other student media website we could find, we decided to try something that we hadnâ€™t seen: one site that combines the followingâ€¦
- Daily Web-only stories.
- Daily blogs.
- Daily multimedia, most often video from the student TV station
- Daily radio shows, from our student radio station
And we resolved to use only student content. That meant no wire. No adults.
Well, we figured out why we hadnâ€™t found anyone else doing this. Because itâ€™s really frigginâ€™ hard. For starters, there were huge technical hurdles. We know about writing and editing and design and photography. But writing code eluded us. We had to hunt down students outside of our field to help us, and they werenâ€™t always helpful.
And we had no more money to do this. We had to reallocate our existing budget for the print issue. And we had no more staff. Itâ€™s not like we have students beating on our newsroom door looking for low-paying work.
So the first thing we did to launch this new website wasâ€¦gut our print edition.
We changed our weekly tab from a newspaper to a themed magazine. Each issue was planned at the beginning of the semester to focus on one subject, whether itâ€™s a spring sports preview, SG elections preview, or a Black History Month special.
That last one showed just how multimedia we could get. The cover story was a roundtable discussion featuring students leaders from groups ranging from Black Student Union to College Republicans, debating racial issues of concern to them. The student TV station filmed and aired it, recutting highlights for our website, which we referred to in the print edition. And the student radio station promoted both the show and the story.
That issue turned out so well because our smaller print staff had weeks to plan it out. Meanwhile, the Web staff was charged with covering all breaking news â€“ which it could do much quicker than the 10-day turnaround required in the print edition.
While that made sense to our readers â€“ our Web hits skyrocketed from a few hundred a week to a few hundred a day â€“ some professors and administrators were skeptical at first. Being in the urban environment of South Florida, theyâ€™re sophisticated enough to acknowledge and support our Web efforts. But they had reservations about the corresponding changes to the print edition.
When one print edition was nothing more than a man-on-the-street series of Q&As, they expressed concern â€“ and in one case anger â€“ that weâ€™d bled the journalism out of the printed University Press. To their credit, they never mentioned the word censorship or even hinted at doing anything except their concern and disdain. So we had to explain that this was one of our just-for-fun themed issues, and that even during this particular week, we were practicing solid news journalism on the site.
But thatâ€™s one of the inherent problems with what weâ€™re doing this semester: The print edition is still a weekly event that can be seen in racks all over campus. Despite the fact that our Web readership (6,000 weekly average) is more than our print run (5,000), the print edition is more ubiquitous.
We quickly discovered that everyone wants the Web edition to be innovative and strong, but they also want the print edition to stay the same. That didnâ€™t seem practical to us â€“ or our readers. Now, our readers can go online daily and read breaking news and themed blogs (Tuesday is SG, Thursday is sportsâ€¦) and see slideshows and video from campus events. Then they can pick up the print edition to read a comprehensive account of FAU research (an upcoming issue).
This helps not only our readers, but our internal copyflow. With weekly themed issues, we can assign one editor and designer to be in charge weeks in advance. For our annual trek to the New York City Convention, for example, we have an FAU history-in-pictures issue already built.
And when we go to New York, weâ€™ll be running our own convention blog at www.upressonline.com/nyc. Check it out, tell us what you think.
February 7, 2007 in Student voices
Taylor describes her work on the map here.
BTW, Rick Burnes, one of the geniuses behind Atlas, will be speaking at our workshop at the end of March. If you’re a college media adviser or ESPECIALLY a student journalist, you should think about Nashville. Here’s more info.