Articles about "Journalism education and training"

‘Man Bites Dog’ headline resurfaces, in Utah

Deseret News

Police say 27-year-old Erasmo Guadalupe Garcia-Serna bit a police dog in West Valley City, Utah. He was naked at the time, they allege.

The charges allowed the Deseret News to use a headline of mythical importance in journalism — one that is elusive but not unheard of.

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David Carr, Andrew Rossi

David Carr joins Boston University

The Boston Globe

New York Times media reporter David Carr will become a professor at Boston University’s College of Communication, Marcella Bombardieri reports. Carr will continue to write for the Times and will teach one class per semester at BU.

His job “appears to be among the first professorships dedicated to evaluating how media organizations can sustain themselves financially as readers and advertisers migrate to the Web, a crisis that has doomed some news organizations and threatens the viability of many others,” Bombardieri writes.

Carr, who once wrote “Having seen many journalism programs up close, I can say that most are escalators to nowhere,” told Bombardieri “a lot of journalism education that is going on is broadly not preparing kids for the world that they are stepping into.” He will teach a class in media criticism next year. He will not have tenure, Bombardieri writes. Read more


Ball State students will cover Olympics in Sochi

The Associated Press

Students at Ball State University will cover the Sochi Olympics from Sochi early next year, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. BSU at the Games will take 22 students to Sochi with the “student-managed freelance news agency that will produce stories, photos, videos and graphics from the Olympics.”

Students from Ball State University took some time off of reporting to cheer on the U.S Women’s Soccer team at the London Olympics. Photo from BSU at the Games.

There, as part of the school’s immersive learning experience, students will “gain unparalleled career experience in journalism, telecommunications, digital sports media production, photojournalism, public relations and graphic design,” according to the project’s web site. The program is part of a class and costs students extra, said journalism instructor Ryan Sparrow in a phone interview. Read more


What students need to know about code and data viz

A stunning amount of data is available to journalists these days, and it is growing exponentially. Not surprisingly, the need for data journalists is expanding as well.

Data-driven journalism is a diverse field that involves interpreting data, developing programming code, and creating databases, maps, charts and other visualizations. Some of the skills required take considerable study. But we often overlook the complexity of data journalism and leave our young journalists without the knowledge they need to succeed.

What should students know about code and data visualizations? What skills should be taught to best prepare them for jobs in data-driven journalism?

Northwestern University Medill School professor Jeremy Gilbert, University of Southern California Annenberg School professor Robert Hernandez, ringleader of For Journalism Dave Stanton and I got together to discuss the tremendous possibilities at the intersection of data, technology and news. Our live chat focused on what educators need to teach and students should learn to succeed in computational journalism.

Replay this chat to see the resources we all shared. Find our archives at

To ask a question, please use the comment box below.
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Occupy Oakland

Journalists under attack: Pros offer safety advice

Look at this page on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ website and feel a pain in your gut. The site documents the 45 journalists who have been killed on the job worldwide this year. Most were covering human rights, politics and/or crime when they died.

If you think the only journalists who face danger on the job are those working in Syria or Egypt, you’re wrong. Last week, WDAZ reporter Adam Ladwig was attacked by three people while covering a fire. Last month, a woman attacked a WUSA9 crew. A CBS2/KCAL9 reporter and photojournalist were attacked while covering the Zimmerman verdict protests in July. In August, told you about the San Francisco area attacks on news crews. In a six-week period, thieves attacked journalists six times, targeting cameras, computers and tripods and taking gear at gunpoint in at least one case. In 2011, journalists across the country said they were attacked by both crowds and police while covering the “Occupy” protests.

I turned to seasoned reporters and photojournalists and to the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma for advice on how to stay safe and still get your job done. (Their answers have been edited for clarity and length.)

I asked my questions of:

What advice do you have about how to stay safe and still get the job done?


Lynn French, KPNX-TV Phoenix: Even though it feels a little “Mother may I?”, I always let the assignment desk or someone in my department know where I am going and when I should be back. It sounds simple, but journalists are independent by nature and have to fight the urge to just run out the door and hope for the best. No matter where I am going, I have my phone on me and location services turned on so if worst came to worst the newsroom could track my phone for evidence. If I am going into a tense situation, especially a door knock, I will call someone at the station to stay on the phone with me and I will tuck my phone somewhere where they can hear me (Arizona is a one-party state). And they know the exact address I am at so if things turn bad they can call the police and I can concentrate on getting to safety.


Bruce Shapiro, Dart Center for Trauma & Journalism: Even local journalists need to be aware of a potentially hostile environment, and pay attention both to the vulnerabilities we share with other citizens and the special risks which may be involved in our work. Anyone should worry, for instance, about being alone on a dark street. On the other hand, a journalist may also need to worry about being mistaken for law enforcement or some other unwanted presence, may be knocking on doors or taking photos in a community that has felt badly treated by media in the past, or may be displaying technology that makes us a target.


Richard Adkins, WRAL-TV Raleigh: Knowledge is more than power — knowledge is armor. Know your surroundings and your way around. In the rush to the scene of  breaking news, pay attention to how you got there. What was the road/intersection where you parked your vehicle? Remember the street names. If you need to call 911 on your cell, could you give your exact location? I’m amazed at how often a reporter turns to me and asks, “Where are we?” If I’m working with a reporter at an active scene, the first thing I do is give the reporter my wireless microphone and turn it on — that way while I’m shooting video I can keep track of the reporter, who may go knocking on doors or talking with gathering crowds. This not only helps with safety, but also lets me come running if the reporter finds a great interview.


Byron Pitts, ABC News: Pack the best first-aid kit possible. Get certified in basic first aid and CPR. I always carry a bandana, flashlights, local map and contact numbers. I also have a get-out-of jail card — either a note or phone number from the most important person in that part of the world I know. A colleague asked me once, “How much blood are you bringing?” There are places in the world where that is a legitimate question. Read, read, read. And always pray, pray, pray. But at the end of the day none of that may be enough — sometimes the best reporting is not going and telling the story another way.

What are the key things to never do and always do?

French: The No. 1 thing to never do is play the “Don’t you know who I am?” card. I have watched reporters do this time and time again in heated situations and not once has the other party stepped back and said, “Oh, I love your newscast, by all means proceed.” The desperation behind their motives is far greater than the stature you believe your organization has in the community. Something I learned from wildfire training is to always have an escape route. I try to stay close to my vehicle or have a place to flee to where someone can call for help. I am always looking for security cameras on buildings and ATMs, so that if something is going to happen, at least it is caught on someone else’s camera. And even though it is a competitive environment, when it comes to some situations there’s safety in numbers.

Pitts: The “ugly American” thing never works. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind to all you meet.

Adkins: Probably the most important advice I can give is for people to speak up. Don’t be afraid to tell the assignment desk when you have concerns for your safety — especially if you are working alone. The desk may give you an address that’s just a street with numbers to them, but you may know it’s an area with issues. Speak up — tell them that’s not a safe area. In the field, get out if you feel threatened — don’t wait for the situation to escalate. Always have an escape plan.

French: I just try to stay calm and aware, which is much tougher to do than it sounds. If someone asks why I’m there shooting video — especially if they have an edge of contention about them — I’m honest but don’t give any details other than the headline of the story. A little perceived ignorance can go a long way toward keeping the situation calm. If someone prods for more details on the story and it’s not apparent how they are attached to it, I’m apt to shrug my shoulders and say, “I was just told to get some shots of this building, I think it’s for tonight’s newscast. Do you know what goes on here that might help me understand why I’m here?” If someone asks me how much my gear is worth, again I play ignorant: “This stuff? It’s pretty old. It’s like cars — the value decreases really fast. We’re really the last ones using this old format.”

If you are working alone, does that change things?

Adkins: I often work alone. A while back I was shooting video along Oregon Inlet. I stepped wrong and one leg went into a hole up to my waist while the other leg went 90 degrees out to my left, a gymnastic move I had never practiced. I was stuck, couldn’t free myself and could feel blood running down my leg. Luckily a couple of guys fishing nearby saw me and came to help. While I was being stitched up at the local Urgent Care, I knew that from now on someone needed to keep tabs on me while I was out. The assignment desk is too busy, so we enabled my phone for my wife to keep up with me via GPS. I also text her where I am and where I’m going. If too long passes without her hearing from me she will call and check on me.

French: Working alone absolutely changes things. Other than your camera, there are no witnesses who have your back. When I am working alone, I roll tape on every interaction and whenever my Spidey sense tingles. While nothing may come of the interaction in the moment, it has helped me prove my conduct was proper when someone has called the news director after the fact to say I was trespassing or being unprofessional. If a situation feels bad, I trust my gut and treat it as a dangerous situation. That may include not advancing into the scene as fast as I normally would, calling the desk to alert them that my safety is in question, or finding an alternative way to cover the story.

What do you wish your reporter/photojournalist partner would or would not do to lower the temperature out there?

Pitts: My checklist: Get the latest security intel from the government, local law enforcement, private security and any reliable source on the ground. Make sure I’m aware of local customs, weapon systems and the proper threat assessment. What’s the biggest threat: kidnapping, murder, violence, intimidation, robbery? I make sure I pack the proper clothes to fit in or not fit in. I make sure I’m in the best physical shape I can possibly be in. In many parts of the world size matters — if you look like someone not to be fooled with people will usually leave you alone. Have an exit strategy. I usually travel with a team, and here are the rules: Let someone in the home office know your schedule, then stay on schedule. We travel most often in daylight. We know in advance (as best we can) who must get paid on the trip — local drivers, interpreters, etc. Avoid negotiating prices on the ground and never flash money. We make all safety decisions as a group, and unanimous votes are the only ones that count. If anyone votes to stop, we stop — no questions asked.

Adkins: Door knocks are one of the most difficult things we do and most of us don’t want to be there. Recently I was with a reporter on a door knock, and when we got back to the car he turned to me and thanked me for being beside him on the stoop. He said, “You’re the only photog I work with that gets out of the car on these things.” I told him it’s a safety-in-numbers thing so I always go to the door with the reporter. Some reporters like to sit in the car while I may be out shooting B-roll. In some situations, I’ll ask them to get out of the car with me. Again, safety in numbers — and while my eye is glued to the viewfinder, their eyes can be open to our surroundings.

French: Read the situation and consider how the camera will change the dynamic. Cameras are a lot like alcohol, they intensify people’s personalities and intentions. If people are happy, they become happier around the camera; if they are angry, they become angrier at the camera and the person using it. Everyone is trying to hit a deadline, but remembering the people we are covering have to live with a situation long after our deadline has passed will hopefully help us be more respectful of the emotional temperature. Finally, keep an eye on each other and help if needed. Yes, we are competitors but at the end of the day our goal is the same.

Do newsrooms train journalists to handle this sort of thing? What would such training include?

Shapiro: No — and they should. Assessing threats and staying safe — whether that means being smart about physical threats, understanding basic cybersecurity, being able to deliver routine first aid, or basic awareness of psychological trauma — is part of the training news organizations should provide. This isn’t just something for correspondents covering exotic conflicts. Even local journalists may contend with mass shootings, disasters, civil unrest, or simply dangerous streets, disturbed individuals, traumatic assignments or the risk of mugging, sexual assault or being targeted because of our work. It’s an occupational health risk, just like repetitive strain injury. If a news company would invest in ergonomic chairs, why not invest in a safety briefing, first-aid course or trauma-awareness session?

Pitts: The first time I went to Afghanistan for CBS News, Dan Rather called me into his office. “Here are the rules of the road,” he said. “Don’t eat the meat, don’t drink the water and never look at the women.” He was smiling when he said it. And then he turned serious: “Who are the people you love most in the world? Think about it. Go back to your office and write each of them a letter. Seal the letters and leave them with me if you like. Because when you go someplace like Afghanistan, you might not come home.” Then he just sat there and let the idea sink in. Finally he added: “If you can accept that reality, then go with God. If not, we will send someone else.” Period. End of discussion. I share that story only to say this: In our business and in these times there are no guarantees. Read more

The Daily Bruin's reporting on the struggle of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Malawi to gain health care was supported by the Bridget O'Brien Scholarship Foundation. (

UCLA reporting honors photojournalist’s memory

In their last year of college, a reporter and photographer spent 24 days in Malawi conducting interviews and taking photographs to create an ambitious newspaper report about a sensitive human-rights story. But to pay for the trip, they didn’t have to hit the lottery or save money by sleeping in their cars.

Presented by the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student paper, “In the Shadows” is a story of vulnerability, isolation and prejudice. Homosexuality is illegal and stigmatized in Malawi, so all the people who 2013 UCLA graduates Sonali Kohli interviewed and Blaine Ohigashi photographed had to remain anonymous. The three-chapter story details the challenges Malawi’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community faces in getting health care, including HIV prevention and treatment, and obtaining mental-health and addiction services.

Kohli and Ohigashi owe their opportunity to pursue such an ambitious story to the Bridget O’Brien Scholarship Foundation. O’Brien, who died in 2007, was a former staffer at the Bruin, where she worked primarily as a photojournalist. Kelly Rayburn, a board member of the foundation who knew O’Brien in high school and worked with her at the Bruin, said in a phone interview that “she inspired people to tell stories in a variety of different ways. She did everything at the Bruin. She was the photo editor, she was a copy editor, she wrote news stories — she just did everything.”

Nearing her graduation in 2003, O’Brien knew she wanted to travel. She started saving money and thinking about stories she could pursue.

“She was basically living in her truck and on people’s couches to save money to travel,” recalled Rayburn. “Over the winter break, we got this email from her — it kind of came out of the blue, but it was what you’d expect from her. She was always going from one adventure to another.”

The email is reproduced on the foundation’s website. In it, O’Brien thanked her friends for allowing her to sleep on their couches and in their extra beds so that she only had to spend five nights in her truck to save cash.

“I’m leaving in about 20 minutes to drive to the San Francisco airport and get on a plane to Nicaragua,” she wrote. “Sudden, yes. Random, yes. Malaria-ridden, yes.”

USA Today had hired her to cover a story about fair-trade coffee, she said, so she was heading out with a purpose. Her story was published in the Bruin, with her photographs appearing in USA Today. In October 2007, while on tour with her husband and his band, O’Brien was killed in a car accident when a deer ran onto the Ohio Turnpike, her father Kevin O’Brien said in an email.

After Bridget’s death, her friends and family wanted to find a way people could honor her memory besides sending flowers, Kevin O’Brien said. Rayburn and his wife Sarah, who had also worked at the Bruin and known Bridget, suggested a scholarship and offered to work out the logistics.

“The scholarship foundation in Bridget’s name allows us to keep her spirit alive by providing funding and resources not normally available at college publications, and by encouraging and allowing other student journalists to pursue their passion,” O’Brien said, adding that the support of the Bruin’s editors and adviser “help assure the reporting is carried out responsibly and to a high ethical standard.”

The teams are selected by an advisory board that includes Bridget O’Brien’s former Bruin colleagues, friends and her parents, said Tyson Evans, a board member who’s now deputy editor for interactive news at The New York Times.

Many Bruin staffers plan their application for the O’Brien scholarship far in advance. Ohigashi said he started thinking about a project when photo editor Maya Sugarman and her partner Matt Stevens went to Cameroon on the 2010 scholarship. In a phone interview, Ohigashi said he and Kohli first decided what issue they wanted to cover, then looked at countries in which LGBT rights was a pressing issue and to which UCLA had a connection. (In Malawi, UCLA works with Partners in Hope Medical Center to conduct research and provide free HIV/AIDS care.)

The scholarship committee chose Kohli and Ohigashi’s project because the team was clearly committed to the Bruin and because the proposal that became “In the Shadows” matched the scholarship’s mission, Rayburn said — “something with global reach and local consequence.”

Bridget O’Brien made it her mission to report on such stories, and her friends and family have now made it theirs to ensure other students have the same opportunities that she created for herself.

“We wanted to give other people the same opportunity without them having to spend a quarter in their truck,” Rayburn said. Read more


Tips for Storytellers: How to make photos better

As a designer and editor, my projects have been made infinitely better because I’ve worked with stellar photojournalists. They’ve patiently schooled me on the importance of capturing the moment, finding the best light and thinking about composition. Here are a few tips. Part of a series of graphics with tips for storytellers, think of this as bite-sized inspiration. Next Friday: How to create your online portfolio and personal brand.

Quinn-fo-graphics: How to make photos better

For a PDF: Quinn-fo-graphics: How to make photos better

Related: How to make the most of your tweets | How to get your video right |
How to polish your writing Read more

icon for writing

Tips for Storytellers: How to polish your writing

Lucky me. My office is two doors down from one of the world’s best writing coaches. I go to Roy Peter Clark often when writer’s block hits me. Here, you’ll find a few particularly helpful tips. Part of a series of graphics with tips for storytellers, think of this as bite-sized inspiration. Next Friday: How to make your photos better.

Poynter Quinn-fo-graphic: Polish your writing
Poynter Quinn-fo-graphic: Polish your writing

For a PDF: Poynter Quinn-fo-graphic: How to polish your writing

Related: How to make the most of your tweets | How to shoot great video Read more

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Indiana University alum on j-school’s new home: ‘Trust but verify’

Indiana University’s board of trustees voted Friday to approve a new Media School, which will combine the old journalism school with the departments of Communications and Culture and Telecommunications. The new school will officially open on July 1, 2014. Lesa Hatley Major, currently the journalism school’s interim dean, will be the new school’s associate dean.

The move will take the journalism school from its current home in Ernie Pyle Hall to Franklin Hall. In response to the possible merger and the move, a Facebook page launched in February to Save Ernie Pyle Hall, or at least get the new school named after the famous newsman.

Owen Johnson, associate professor in the school of journalism and also leading the Ernie Pyle Legacy Committee, said he was initially concerned about the merger “because it seemed as if it was tilting away from a professional/academic balance into an academic bias,” Johnson wrote in an e-mail to Poynter. “But as discussions continued, especially last summer, it seems clear that the balance will remain and both sides will be beefed up.”

But some alumni are concerned about what the merger means for the school of journalism and Pyle’s legacy. Read more

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How journalists can learn statistics through real life, not abstractions

If you were never good at math as a kid, you can still be a successful, award-winning data journalist. Matt Waite is a prime example. Waite, journalism professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told Poynter that the way he wrapped his head around statistics in college was to apply them to real life, such as test scores, rather than learning abstract terms.

NewsU training: Matt Waite teaches Drones for Reporting and Newsgathering: The Promise and the Peril. Use code 13POYNTER100WAITE for a free webinar replay.

Related: Nate Silver: Eight cool things journalists should know about statistics Read more

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